The following is a response to the Op-ed posted by Rauf Bolden on Jan. 21, 2020.
Mr. Bolden suggests that the funds of the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) be redirected to provide paid tolls for local residents. Also he alleges that in today’s internet era our value to the community has less value than it did when we were created in 1993. The truth is that the internet has made tourism marketing more competitive than ever before.
For 26 years, the CVB, otherwise known as Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, has been effectively promoting the cities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, as well as the unincorporated area of Fort Morgan peninsula, as a family-friendly vacation destination. The CVB is funded by a 2% lodging tax that is applied to all overnight stays in hotels, vacation rentals and RV parks/campgrounds. This tax is collected by the state of Alabama and distributed to the CVB. The cities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores levy and collect their own lodging tax.
As a nonprofit, the CVB is required by law to use its funding for promotion and publicity of the destination to attract visitors to our area, thus providing customers to our numerous tourism-related businesses and jobs for many area residents. We are very proud that our efforts over the last 26 years have resulted in businesses- like restaurants and attractions- being able to develop into year-round operations, not just for the summer season. This means year-round employment for our citizens.
Our communities have greatly benefited from our efforts, with the cities able to fund many projects that enhance the quality of life for residents because of the lodging tax- and retail sales tax- revenue created by the millions of visitors to our area. We have very strong relationships with both cities and both Mayor Kennon and Mayor Craft provide leadership and direction for our efforts as members of our board of directors.
The Alabama Gulf Coast CVB is proud of the work we have done to build Orange Beach and Gulf Shores into a year-round destination for our guests and a highly-sought place to live, work and retire.