AUBURN AND OPELIKA, Ala.- The Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau says 2015 was one of the biggest years they have seen in decades in terms of tourism revenue. Last year, visitors spent $391 million at area restaurants, hotels and retail locations.
Last year’s tourism revenue was 15.8% greater than 2014. The tourism bureau says that last year’s Auburn Football season brought in 7% more revenue in 2015 than 2014.
John Wild, President of the Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau says the big year was due to a good mixture of events throughout the year such as the Barbasol Championship, the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships and other events. He adds the revenue means great things for the economic infrastructure. “We need that from our growth standpoint from the taxation and it just helps all of us as local citizens live a better quality of life, and who doesn’t want to show off a great area they live in to all types of other visitors?” Wild said.
Sarah Brown, the co-owner of Wrapsody in Downtown Auburn says her business does better each year, but last year was very good to them. Brown says her business saw a nearly 10% increase in business. Brown added she is lucky to have a business in an area that sees that much tourism. “We love being at Toomer’s Corner,” Brown said. “Downtown is growing. Downtown is beautiful. All the construction has brought a really exciting new look downtown. There’s a lot of growth going on. There’s cranes and lots of construction going on, but that’s a sign of the times
Valerie Smith, the owner of Southern Crossing in Downtown Opelika says her business saw a 27% increase in business. She added her and her husband expected a spike in business, but they did not expect that much. In addition to her employees, she says a big reason for her success was all of her customers. “We just can’t say enough about how much we appreciate our Opelika citizens as well as other tourists who are coming into the area whether it be for Auburn football games, or conferences that are held or golf tournaments,” Smith said. “We just appreciate that they stop downtown and stop in our store and shop us.”