Residents may have noticed an increase in traffic around the city in recent days. Or perhaps the wait for a table in their favorite restaurant is a bit longer, or parking spaces are tougher to find around parks and shopping centers.
It’s not their imagination. Dothan has seen a temporary population growth by as much as 10 percent as visitors converge for this weekend’s BMX Nationals event at Westgate Park, and the start of play at the 70th annual Press Thornton Future Masters junior golf tournament at the Dothan Country Club.
From one perspective, it’s an economic boon, as an estimated 6,000 visitors are expected to attend and participate in these two events, infusing an estimated $1.5 million into the local economy.
While that’s appreciated, it’s not really the most important thing. More beneficial is the opportunity residents have to extend hospitality to our visitors and make sure they leave our city with memories of a warm and welcoming place, and look forward to coming back.
It’s not that we need much encouragement. Each year following tennis, softball, and baseball tournaments, as well as the Future Masters, letters will arrive on the editor’s desk from visitors who, from their homes hundreds of miles away and weeks removed from their visits, remember their time here fondly, and are motivated to send in a message of thanks.
That’s particularly important at a time when much of what the rest of the nation sees of Alabama are isolated regrettable incidents, corrupt politicians or other embarrassments.
Every visitor gives us an opportunity to show our true face. Be kind and generous, and you’ll change perceptions one encounter at a time.