Development office to expand tourism in city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Selma’s tourism industry gets bigger each year. That’s why the city’s community development office needs help &045; so the industry can grow even bigger.

According to Patty Sexton, with the community development office, historic tourism is the second-biggest reason people visit Alabama &045; the gulf being the first. Sexton said that history-minded visitors stay longer, visit twice as many sites and spend more than 2 1/2 times than other visitors.

Elizabeth Driggers, director of the community development office, said she wanted Selmians to know what their city had to offer so visitors would as well. &uot;Nowhere else can you find so many historical properties in one area,&uot; she said.

Elise Blackwell, with Driggers’ office, added that Selma had four museums, Sturdivant Hall, the largest historic district in Alabama, the Alabama River, was within 12 miles of Cahawba, the state’s first capital, and an antebellum grist mill.

To achieve that goal, Driggers’ office is working on developing a seminar for &uot;Selma’s ambassadors&uot; &045; hotel employees, restaurant servers and gas station attendants. Driggers noted that those in the service industry often are the first to meet visitors. The program would teach people about what Selma has to offer and how to get there.

The community development office plans on working with the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce to implement the seminar. Claire Twardy, executive director of the chamber, said customer service seminars existed in the past, but were designed for retail employees.

Lauri Cothran, executive vice-president of the tourism division, has an &uot;Ask me about Selma&uot; test, which she created several years ago in an effort to help people learn about Selma, it’s inhabitants and features. Cothran said businesses interested in learning about the test and administering it to their employees should contact her at the Selma-Dallas County Centre for Commerce at 875-7241.