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Member Spotlight

Welcome to the Chamber's Member Spotlight series where we take a moment to feature one of our members. For May and June, our spotlight is on the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. We spoke with President & CEO Tami Reist to find out more about the organization.

What year was your organization founded, and how did you get started?

“Our organization was started 60 years ago by Dick Ordway, who was the Executive Director of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce from 1959 until 1982. He believed in regionalism and reached out to others to make Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association a reality."

Describe your organization, including the history and the services you provide? 

"Our organization is a 16-county regional organization with the main goal of promoting the region, its cultural heritage, history, outdoor recreation, attractions, etc. We help our 500+ members by working on advocacy, marketing and keeping our members up-to-date with the latest tourism data."

How has your organization changed in the last year?

"We have grown tremendously by adding lodging partners, short-term rentals, new attractions such as Trash Panda’s baseball, The Orion Amphitheater, the Cook Museum of Natural Science and many other new tourism assets."

"Our organization has started the North Alabama Film Commission, the Unexpected Adventures of North Alabama Podcast and funding ALL-a-Bama to promote and enhance the tourism industry within North Alabama. This includes offering sensory tourism training and practice stay experiences for qualifying individuals."

Describe an exciting recent highlight for your organization.

"I think the best highlight was when we brought on a workforce development trainer in-house. Our goal is to train our tourism and future workforce on Flawless Delivery. It is a holistic approach to training our industry on how to adapt to difficult situations, work more effectively as a team and improve their hospitality skills. We have seen less turnover and more people being promoted due to this training."

What makes your organization stand out?

"With a regional approach, we can share so much with others to attract them to North Alabama. Our commitment to helping our members grow their businesses and creating educational pathways to strengthen our region is what sets us apart."

What are you most proud of when it comes to the organization?

"I am most proud of the hardworking staff that showcases this region. We continue to grow year over year, and each of us brings different talents to our office, which I believe is why we continue to succeed."

What is one of the advantages your organization is seeing right now?

"We are seeing the industry in North Alabama continue to grow in rate and overall revenues. With the increased revenues, we are able to bring more marketing to the region."

What are the biggest challenges your organization is facing right now?

"The biggest challenge is our workforce shortage and finding the time for our partners to go through our Flawless Delivery Training Program. Our team also faces challenges with our aging parents and trying to develop a work/home balance."

What keeps you motivated/encouraged in your position?

"I get motivated when I receive calls from other states wanting us to share with them the successes we are having in our region. I'm also encouraged by the continued climb in revenues and the growth of new lodging developments in our area. Sending people to marketing college and seeing them incorporate what they've learned into their businesses also excites me."

What advice would you offer to someone looking for the type of services your organization provides?

"I would say, get to know your communities by visiting and having roundtable discussions on how we can improve tourism in those communities. Surveying your visitors and residents is a great way to start the process. Tourism shares information through storytelling about their area. It is important that we document and share those stories so our future generations can continue to learn. Our website,, offers a variety of itineraries, video content, maps and trails to help visitors and residents discover the amazing things they can see and do in our North Alabama region."


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