By 2006, the beach was, for the most part, back and ready for tourists, and, measured in lodgings tax revenue, amounted to 92 percent of 2004's high.
"Our goal for'07 is to increase by 15 percent over'06," said Mike Foster, vice president of marketing for the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's a huge challenge, but it's one, as we look forward, we think we can do. We've got a lot of very, very positive factors going for us."
Among those: the anticipated opening of three major commercial developments that will add millions of square feet of retail and restaurant space, a record-setting 1,346 condo units and hotel rooms hitting the rental market, and an advertising campaign that is expected to top $1 million.
The restaurants, movie theaters, shops and other attractions that are planned as part of the large commercial projects under way -- The Wharf and Bama Bayou in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Colonial Pinnacle at Craft Farms -- will help lure more-affluent visitors and give them places to spend their money.