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Travelers spent $45 million in Butler County last year

Travelers spent more than $45 million in Butler County in 2014. The county also took in $215,444 in lodging taxes last year, a 12.6 percent increase from 2013. (Advocate Staff/Beth Hyatt)

Travelers spent more than $45 million in Butler County in 2014. The county also took in $215,444 in lodging taxes last year, a 12.6 percent increase from 2013. (Advocate Staff/Beth Hyatt)

Travelers spent more than $45 million and were responsible for 663 jobs last year in Butler County, according to a report issued by the Alabama Tourism Department.

The figures represent a 12.6 percent increase in traveler spending on hotels, restaurants, shopping and transportation, and mirror statewide increases of 7.3 percent in tourism revenues.

“I am not at all surprised, especially when I see the number of cars going up and down Interstate 65,” said Francine Wasden, executive director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The conversations I have had with local businesses are positive. Business is up. Sales tax revenue is up and more good things are on the horizon for Greenville and Butler County.”

According to the report, more than 24 million visitors spent more than $11.7 billion in Alabama last year.

“Alabama offers tourists many areas of our state to enjoy,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “The tourism numbers for 2014 show that Alabama welcomes many people to our state. Money spent on travel creates jobs, grows local economies and generates needed tax revenues.”

Since 2012, Butler County has seen an 11.2 percent increase in jobs directly related to travel, including a 7 percent increase from 2013 to 2014.

Every $104,692 of travel expenditures creates one job in the state.

“Greenville and Butler County are the beneficiaries of these efforts through the money spent as visitors passed through the I-65 corridor,” said David Hutchison, executive director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. “These dollars contribute to the local economy and allow the city and county to make improvements that have a positive impact on the quality of life. These improvements and amenities help us in the attraction of new business and assist in funding our continuing economic development efforts.”

Butler County took in $215,444 in lodging taxes in 2014, a 12.6 percent increase from 2013.

The state’s General Fund received $43 million from lodging taxes in 2014.

The top five counties with the greatest travel-related expenditures are Baldwin County ($3.5 billion), Jefferson County ($1.7 billion), Madison County ($1.08 billion), Mobile County ($998 million) and Montgomery County ($723 million).