Tourists return to state’s beaches
GULF SHORES (AP) — Business was booming at Alabama’s beaches over the Memorial Day weekend as tourists filled hotels and condominiums, restaurants and retail stores.
Condos were booked from Orange Beach to Dauphin Island and hotels were packed as far north as Loxley for the weekend that traditionally serves to kick off the summer season.
“It couldn’t have been better — use all the superlatives you want,” said Johnny Fisher, general manager of Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores. “The weather couldn’t have been better. It was all perfect.”
That was good news for the local tourism industry after the area was hit hard by hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Fisher told the Mobile Press-Register that the restaurant served more than 3,000 people and had many others just enjoying a free concert.
In Orange Beach, The Wharf held a sold-out performance by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. at its 10,200-seat amphitheater, and several new restaurants also opened over the weekend.
Montgomery residents Johnny and Jessie Davenport and Quintella Sanderson were already looking forward to their next visit to Baldwin County’s beaches while relaxing at a picnic table at the Gulf State Park beach pavilion.
“I’m not ready to leave,” Johnny Davenport said. “We’ll probably come back in July.”
He said his son is returning home this summer from Germany, where he is stationed with the U.S. Army.
They plan to celebrate the homecoming with a large group of extended family at the beach.
“We’ve got 10 grandchildren and six children, and a whole lot of cousins and in-laws — we’ll probably invite some of them,” Davenport said.
Many of the largely seasonal businesses at Baldwin County’s beaches need a busy summer to stay open all year. The summer is off to a good start.
Orange Beach Mayor Pete Blalock, whose seafood business supplies many area restaurants, said restaurant owners have reported doing record business over the holiday weekend.
“I don’t think it could be any better,” the mayor said.
“This island is probably as packed as packed can be. If summer stays like this, it will be a great year.”
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!