Alabama tourism

Saying Alabama is in a budget crisis, Gov. Robert Bentley is asking legislators to approve $541 million tax increase.

Bentley on Friday unveiled proposals that include an 82.5-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase and raising the sales taxes on automobile purchases from 2 to 4 percent.

Bentley said he has been opposed to tax increases most of his life. However, he said "there is nothing more conservative" than the state getting its fiscal house in order.

TheCustomOfLife / Wikimedia Commons

Tourists traveling into Alabama on interstate highways will soon be greeted by signs saying "Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama."

State tourism and transportation officials say the "Alabama The Beautiful" signs that have stood at the state line since 2003 will be replaced by the new "Sweet Home Alabama" signs over the next few months. Smaller versions of the signs will be on the grounds of the eight state welcome centers to serve as backdrops for travelers' photos.

State tourism officials say lodging revenue in Colbert and Lauderdale counties in 2012 was $1.1 million - up by about $30,000 from 2011.

   The TimesDaily of Florence reported Sunday ( ) that state tourism officials said the increase in lodging revenue was part of a nearly $303 million impact tourists had on the shoals area of northern Alabama last year.

   The total includes money spent on hotels, restaurants, entertainment, retail shopping, admissions to attractions and tourist events.