Tourism is essential to Asheville’s vitality. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s investment in tourism promotion drives $3.1 billion in economic impact, creating a customer base for local businesses and investing in community assets enjoyed by residents. 2018 highlights include:
- BCTDA awards $10 million for community projects. The six recipients of the 2018 Tourism Product Development Fund, including a $6 million investment with Buncombe County Parks, will be used by thousands of residents in addition to visitors.
- African-American heritage initiative partnership develops. $1.6 million in TPDF funds will support a series of projects in the Eagle Street area. Additionally, Explore Asheville will work with project stakeholders to develop interpretive experiences for an African-American Heritage District.
- Wages increase across hospitality industry. New 2018 research shows that Asheville area hotels pay 19 percent more than counterparts across North Carolina.
- Asheville recognized as top music town. Explore Asheville’s campaign to grow awareness for the city’s music scene earned accolades in American Songwriter, Fodor’s, Consequence of Sound, Paste and honors from U.S. Travel and the HSMAI Adrian Awards.
- Explore Asheville celebrates first year as an independent organization, representing 1,200 local businesses and 27,241 jobs.
- Signature culinary event honors Appalachia. BCTDA approved $75,000 from its event fund to support Asheville chefs and makers, and provide marketing support for Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event coming September 2019.
- Fed Cup returns to Asheville. After a significant community effort to welcome tennis greats for the 2018 Fed Cup, Explore Asheville provides necessary support to help earn Asheville the rare honor of twice hosting the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, returning in 2019.
- Summer of Glass. Explore Asheville worked alongside arts organizations, local glass artists and Biltmore to tell the story of glass art in the region.
- Google Partnership launches. Explore Asheville launches a destinationwide effort to help local tourism businesses earn positioning in the Google ecosystem through training and support.
- “Asheville By Design” premieres on National Geographic Channel. This national cable program features the intentionality that gave shape and character to our mountain home.
Stephanie Pace Brown is president and CEO of Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau.