The tourism organization in DeKalb County, Ala., one of the counties most distant from Alabama's Gulf Coast tourism hub, was recognized last week as the state's best.
DeKalb Tourism Inc. Director John Dersham said the award presented Monday at the conference in Huntsville recognized DeKalb for having the most tourism growth in the north end of the state.
DeKalb "had the best tourism growth rate in North Alabama over the last five years," Dersham said. "In fact, in 10 years we've doubled the expenditures from tourists in our area, and most of that has happened in the last five years."
He said a "sophisticated marketing plan" helps tourism officials in DeKalb attract visitors through the Internet, social media, print and television advertising campaigns.
"We go after our customers and invite them to come," he said.
The Governor's Conference on Tourism draws tourism industry leaders and corporate representatives who make their living in tourism, according to the Alabama Tourism Department website.
Dersham said about 175,000 Alabamians work in the tourism industry, and the annual conference usually draws 130 to 200 people.
"To be in this business in Alabama, it is a top award to get at any point in your career," he said.
When DeKalb Tourism officials speak with government entities, advertising agencies and industry officials, "it gives a little validity to the entire organization," he said.
Dersham, a longtime professional photographer, was among the presenters holding training sessions during the four-day conference. According to conference information, speakers talked about local, national and international marketing, and how to stand out on the Internet and in social media platforms.
Contract staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569.
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