Three Limestone County professionals were recently honored by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, which named them Alabama Elite Tourism Professionals.

Holly Hollman of the Athens Arts League, Athens Main Street Director Tere Richardson and Jessica Jackson of the Ardmore Welcome Center all received the honor for their contributions to the tourism industry, according to a press release from AMLA.

“The North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional award recognizes those members who go above and beyond in their service, involvement and engagement with visitors to the North Alabama region. North Alabama’s travel and tourism industry is seeing tremendous economic impacts and growth in job numbers as a direct result of Holly’s, Tere’s and Jessica’s leadership skills and commitment to enhancing the travel and tourism experience,” said AMLA President and Chief Executive Officer Tami Reist. “I am proud to have these industry leaders as part of the North Alabama tourism team and to present them with this prestigious honor.”

May was National Tourism Month, and the North Alabama Elite Tourism Professional recognition is part of the 36th annual National Travel and Tourism Week. The theme for this year's week was “Travel Matters,” a recognition of how travel “enriches lives and strengthens communities,” the release said.

Travel generated $15.5 billion for Alabama’s economy in 2018, and visitors support over 198,000 American jobs. In North Alabama, the travel industry generated $2.93 billion in tourist expenditures, and more than 35,000 jobs are supported by travel and tourism.

In 2018, more than $954 million of state and local tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have had to pay $507 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.