From Gordon Smith
Following up on his calls against the exploitation of Asheville by the hotel industry, Gordon Smith today released his position on the reuse and remodel of the BB&T building for a new downtown hotel. The project will come before Asheville City Council under a “conditional zoning” process, which gives governing bodies the right to request specific conditions for approval.
Asked how the proposed adaptive reuse of the BB&T building could receive his support, Gordon said, “Living wages, preference for local businesses and local artists, contributing to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and getting on the right side of dedicating a portion of the occupancy tax to the needs of people. – These conditions are necessary to a sustainable tourism sector and to a successful hotel application. I will be requesting all four.”
Gordon was recently quoted by John Boyle in the Asheville Citizen-Times saying, “We’re angry with all these new hotels because there’s still not a commitment from the hotel industry to pay living wages, use local suppliers, and give part of the occupancy tax back for the needs of the people who live here.” Gordon went on to say, “I agree with the people of Asheville who are demanding that hoteliers put Asheville first. A healthy, sustainable tourism sector can be a positive thing, but what’s happening now is exploitation.”
“There’s only one planet, and there’s only one Asheville. Let’s protect them both. I invite our tourism partners to merge their goals with the needs of our citizens. Sustainable tourism practices can be achieved here in Buncombe County,” Gordon said. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Sustainable Tourism should:
Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
Gordon, also a candidate for Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in District One, has long been a champion for living wages, local businesses, affordable housing, and equitable distribution of the occupancy tax.