What makes you want to visit someplace new?
An Instagram photo? A Pinterest board? A friend sharing their unforgettable experience? Historical significance? Exploring the unknown? Change of scenery? Break from reality? We all have our reasons, and they are the driving force behind why we expend resources discovering new destinations.
For folks traveling to Jackson Co., those are just a few motivations that drive visitors to discover & experience our attractions. We’re a haven to many & an explorer’s dream to even more!
It’s no surprise that we live in one of the most richly diverse outdoor destinations in the Southeast. Our geographical location is beautifully situated on the State’s largest lake between Sand Mountain & Cumberland Plateau - at the southern tip of the Appalachians. Our location is a major contributor to why we’ve seen a historical increase in visitation over a 27-year period. As a result, 2019 experienced a record-breaking $70M in traveler spending within the Jackson County economy.
Understanding what the top stops are for visitors are, help us better understand how travelers spend with our local businesses and can point to potential areas of expansion.
Unclaimed Baggage Center – Now celebrating 50 years, this one-of-a-kind retail store is the only place to purchased lost luggage in America. The retail attraction draws visitors from all 50 states and around the world, averaging 1 Million guests per year.
Russell Cave National Monument – Established on May 11, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. The park serves to protect one of the most complete records of human occupation in the Southeast US. The park attracts roughly 25,000 visitors every year who are looking to learn, hike and seek serenity among 310 acres of Appalachian heritage.
Goose Pond Colony – This City owned outdoor-recreation resort accommodates roughly 180,000 visitors, across 30+ annual events and is centrally located on Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro.
Cathedral Caverns State Park – Attracts 60,000 annual visitors who come to explore 5.5 miles of hiking trails among the 493 acres of land, leading to a cave mouth measuring 126 feet wide and 25 feet high - a possible world record for commercial caves. The cave maintains a comfortable 60 degrees temperature year-round; which makes it an excellent field trip for school, church or other groups who visit from around the world.
Buck’s Pocket State Park – Reopening in July of 2020 as the State’s newest park addition the number of annual visitors is still unknown. However, the rise in visitation is already making quite an introduction. The park offers 10 miles of trails and a breathtaking scenic view from atop the Point Rock Overlook. With a newly renovated campground and 6.3 miles of off-road vehicle trails we have high hopes for increased visitation to our area, as a result.
Scottsboro Boy’s Museum – Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020 and now on the National Civil Rights Trail – this worldwide icon attracts roughly 2,000 annual visitors from every walk of life who are seeking to learn from a past that we collectively hope to improve.
These make up just a few of the tourism staples in our attraction arsenal that have led to a consistent growth of visitors from around the world. But there is still room to grow.
When visitors come, they are looking for a unique and holistic experience. Something special. Something they can’t experience anywhere else. When a distinct experience is created, that’s what compels visitors frequent a location. They want to recreate that feeling of “fill in the blank” that they once felt here. That escape that they have yet to experience anywhere else.
We can offer that and we have the infrastructure in place to build from. The question is, what gifts/talents/abilities do you possess that offer unique experiences and how can we help you bring it to fruition?
Until next time, happy travels!
Sarah Stahl is the director of marketing and tourism at the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 256-259-5500 or by email at email@example.com.