Conservation Chief Barnett Lawley Selected for Alabama Tourism Advocate Award

CUTLINE: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner L. Barnett Lawley (c) is joined by his wife Deanna (l) as he accepts the 2006 Alabama Tourism Advocate Award in Government from Director of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel Lee Sentell (r).

AUBURN, Ala. Barnett Lawley, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has been chosen for the 2006 Alabama Tourism Advocate Award in the Government category in recognition of his contributions to the travel industry.   The selection was announced Tuesday night during the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism at The Hotel at Auburn University with approximately 250 state tourism leaders present for the occasion.

Lawley said his mission as commissioner was to position Alabama as the ultimate destination for nature-based tourism.  In the process, he has demonstrated how to successfully grow the state’s economic strength through enjoyment rather than exploitation of natural resources.  He has been a catalyst for developing a bona fide nature-based tourism industry in Alabama.  Under his leadership, DCNR and the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel partnered to promote Alabama’s beautiful outdoors destinations and activities.  Both agencies cooperated to celebrate 2006 as the “Year of Outdoor Alabama,” and as a result, “Outdoor Alabama” is now a household name and a message.  “Outdoor Alabama TV” promotes family activities such as bird watching, fishing, boating, camping and hunting, and “Outdoor Alabama Magazine” showcases exciting destinations across the state. 

Lawley thanked the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel and Director Lee Sentell for their support of his department.  “I am proud that Alabama epitomizes Thoreau’s claim that, ‘Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads,’” he said.  “From the magnificence of the Walls of Jericho to the Mobile Tensaw Delta, Outdoor Alabama is incredibly diverse,” he added.

Criteria for the Alabama Tourism Advocate Award in Government include outstanding support of tourism by a local, state, or national elected official; outstanding contributions benefiting tourism at the local, regional, state, or national level; development of new and/or improvement of existing programs/legislation that benefit tourism; and enhancement of local, regional or state image as a tourist destination.

The award that was presented is among 12 that comprise the Alabama Tourism Awards.  These awards, first given out in 1998, annually honor outstanding achievement in the state’s tourism industry.  Each award winner is recognized as a key player in making tourism a strong economic force in the state.  The tourism industry contributes $7.6 billion to Alabama’s economy and supports 159, 650 jobs statewide. 

ABTT coordinates the Alabama Tourism Awards Program.  The full list of award winners is as follows:

Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame:  Retired ABTT Employee Sara G. Redding

Alabama Attraction of the Year:  Huntsville Botanical Garden

Alabama Event of the Year:  Santa’s Village at Alabama Constitution Village, Huntsville

Alabama Governor’s Tourism Award: Virginia Whitfield/Whitfield Foods of Montgomery

Alabama Tourism Advocate Award—Government: Barnett Lawley, Conservation Commissioner

Alabama Tourism Advocate Award—Media:  Lynn Edge, Birmingham Writer

Alabama Tourism Executive of the Year:  Dr. Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr., Director, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Alabama Tourism Organization of the Year:  Florence/Lauderdale Tourism

Alabama Tourism Partnership Award:  Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham

Alabama Welcome Center of the Year:  Grand Bay Welcome Center, Grand Bay

ABTT Employee of the Year:  ABTT Marketing Director R. Grey Brennan

Director's Award: Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo of Gulf Shores

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