Groups Aim to Promote Birding to Boost Black Belt Tourism
An effort to expand tourism in some west Alabama Black Belt counties aims to bring more jobs and tourism dollars into the region.
Land and business owners from Dallas — Perry — and Hale counties — are now exploring ways they can work together to expand eco-tourism industry in the area.
They plan to do achieve their goal by developing and promoting birding.
Dr. Ansel Payne is the Executive Director of Alabama Audubon.
“Alabama Audubon is the state’s leading conservation organization that works on behalf of birds and the people who love them,” he said.
Payne said birding is a multi-million dollar industry across the country — but its largely an untapped resource in Alabama.
“We’re doing increasing work down here in the Alabama Black Belt which is a really special place for birds and it’s a really special place for eco-tourism. We’re bringing birders from all over the country to come here and explore Alabama’s great outdoors.”
Christopher Joe hosts bird watching and nature tours on his Hale County farm.
“Bring in 50 people from outside of the state staying in one area, they have to eat, they have to sleep somewhere. And most of them want to see what else is going on.”
The group has spent the past two days touring some of the places around Selma — visiting birders might want to see. The group also got a sneak-peek inside the historic St. James Hotel where renovations are underway.
Race Banks is the Regional Director for Rhaglan Hospitality, the company that owns the property.
“Everyone around us is so excited about the opportunity to have something like the Audubon Society come here,” said Banks.
“That’s what the St. James is about, we’re about being a platform to be able to put the city up because there’s so much to offer here in Selma and we at the most are just so excited to be a part of this.”
Alabama Audubon officials say Alabama is the 5th most bio-diverse state in the country.
For information about Alabama Audubon — or birding — go to alaudubon.org.