Baldwin County beach towns are on course for a record tourism year, the tourism board says
Last week, when Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism (GSOBT) released their mid-year tourism numbers for beach towns in Baldwin County, the report was welcome. At the end of August, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan are poised to experience a record year for tourism revenue.
“One thing our guests have proven to us time and time again when our region faces a crisis is how loyal they are to choosing Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan as their favorite beach vacations,” said said Beth Gendler, president and CEO of GSOBT, said. “And their loyalty is vital to the economy of this community.”
In a press release, GSOBT reported that taxable accommodation revenue in the three cities for the first eight months of the year was $747 million, compared to $668 million during the same period in 2021 and higher than all of 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. 2021 was a banner year for revenue in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Short-term vacation rentals now make up the majority of housing inventory in the three cities, according to GSOBT, and more than 14,000 units are available for short-term rentals.
Retail sales are also up this year. For the first time, taxable retail sales reached $1.1 billion in the first eight months of the year.
The numbers come at a time when southern Baldwin County is experiencing rapid growth. In fact, Gulf Shores is fifth fastest growing city in Alabama, and Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have recently created their own school systems to keep up with the increase in the number of permanent residents.