Tourism is a strong industry in the state. Alabama was ranked the 14th most popular state in 2014 according to Business Insider.
An estimated 26 million tourists visited the state in 2018. More than 100,000 of them are from other countries, including Canada, the UK, Germany and Japan. In 2006, 22.3 million travelers spent $8.3 billion creating about 162,000 jobs in the state.
The state is home to a variety of attractions, natural sites, parks and events that attract visitors from all over the world, including the annual Hangout Music Festival held on the public beaches of Gulf Shores; the Shakespeare Festival in Alabama, one of the ten largest Shakespeare festivals in the world; to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, a collection of championship-level golf courses spread across the state; casinos such as Victory Country; amusement parks such as Adventure Splash in Alabama; at Riverchase Galleria, one of the largest malls in the southeast; Guntersville Lake Voted Best Lake in Alabama Southern Life Magazine Readers; and the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the oldest museum in the state.
Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, dating back to 1703. It also hosted the first officially organized Mardi Gras parade in the United States in 1830, a tradition that continues to this day. Mardi Gras is an official public holiday in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
In 2018, Mobile’s Mardi Gras Parade was the state’s top tourist draw with an attendance of 892,811. The main attraction was the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville with an attendance of 849,981, followed by the Birmingham Zoo with 543,090 visitors. Among parks and natural attractions, Alabama’s Gulf Coast topped the list with 6,700,000 visitors. Alabama has historically been a popular filming location for films due to the variety of landscapes and environmental contrasts.