DECATUR — Twenty-seven individuals from across North Alabama have been named a North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional, a program of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) where tourism employees demonstrating outstanding customer service and hospitality in the 16-county North Alabama region are recognized in celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week.

The following 27 individuals, including eight from the Sand Mountain area, have each been named a North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional for their contributions to the tourism industry:

Marshall County

Shonda Wall, Wyndham Garden Lake

Mike Jeffreys, Lake Guntersville State Park

John Davis Rollings, Marshall County CVB

DeKalb County

Julie Mewes, Holiday Inn Express

Etowah County

Jason and Jessica Wilson, Back Forty Beer Company LLC

Cherokee County

Cal Breed, Orbix Hot Glass

Charlie and Kris Thomas, Secret Bed & Breakfast

Colbert County

Donna Ream, Coldwater Inn

Ninon Parker, Belle Mont Mansion

Cullman County

Donny Wilson, Evelyn Burrow Museum

Lesley Hyde, Southern Ghost Tours

Franklin County

Cassie Medley, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce

Sally Moore, Tiffin Motor Allegro Club

Jackson County

Sarah Stahl, Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Lauderdale County

Randa Simpson Hovater, Florence Lauderdale Tourism

Lawrence County

Brenda Suski, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce

Tabitha Pace, Lawrence County Industrial Development Board

Limestone County

Natasha McCrary, 1818 Farms

Madison County

Lynne Williams, Huntsville Madison County CVB

Marion County

Hilda Smith, Hampton Inn by Hilton Winfield

Morgan County

Scott Suenaga, Courtyard by Marriott

Iris Pettus, DoubleTree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront

Sharon Holder, Decatur Morgan County Tourism

 Winston County

Mayor Ken Sunseri, City of Haleyville

JD Snoddy, Winston County Circuit Clerk

 May is National Tourism Month, and the North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional recognition is part of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), an annual celebration of the contributions and accomplishments of the U.S. travel industry. NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to underscore the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 37th annual NTTW, set for May 3-9, 2020, spotlights resilience and hope in the face of the coronavirus pandemic with this year’s theme: the Spirit of Travel. The week arrives at an opportune moment to unite the industry, celebrate its indomitable spirit and elevate the role it will play in America’s economic and employment recovery.

“The travel and tourism industry is comprised of a diverse group of hardworking individuals. Whether these award recipients are employed in hospitality, entertainment, lodging or food and beverage, they repeatedly rise to the occasion in creating joy and memorable experiences for North Alabama’s visitors,” AMLA President and CEO Tami Reist said. “Because of these individuals, the spirit of travel will not be shattered and with their leadership and commitment, the travel and tourism industry will be integral to our nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Travel generated $16.8 billion for Alabama’s economy in 2019 and these visitors support over 208,000 American jobs. In North Alabama, the travel industry generated $3.2 billion in tourist expenditures and over 35,000 jobs are supported by travel and tourism. In 2019, more than $1 billion of state and local tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have had to pay $537 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.

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