As a longtime resident of Asheville, I, too, have seen it change from a boarded-up downtown to what we have today. The word is out, and people know why we all chose to live here in the first place.
I, like many other residents, am baffled and feel that that the city does not seem to be keeping pace with the amount of people coming in as far as infrastructure, discussion of shuttle buses, park-and-ride opportunities, or hop-on hop-off free or low-fee transport, etc. And the joke of offering tourist rental bikes downtown is laughable indeed as none of the bike lanes seem to truly exist in any sensible way throughout the downtown area. That is an accident waiting to happen!
And why, oh why, still, to this day, are many of the main downtown sidewalks yet to be repaired? I did see two city workers repairing some pavement in front of the library a few months back, and it was a sham. Just a scoop of cement dropped into the hole. Are you kidding me? I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the city is sued due to an ankle break on these treacherous sidewalks.
Anyway, the main reason I’m writing is to ask if someone can please explain whatever law it is that dedicated 25 percent of hotel taxes to go toward a grant program? It is my understanding that the rest of the money goes toward continuing tourism promotion? All very confusing, but why in this time of huge tourism do we need to maintain the huge amount of advertising? How can this law change so that maybe the city can receive a higher percentage of hotel tax toward things that matter to maintain the city’s needs or even — ha, ha — go toward affordable workforce housing?
— Joan Cope
Editor’s note: Xpress has covered the tourism industry and the hotel occupancy tax in various articles over the years. A May story includes information about the history of the tax as well as the impetus for Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau to continue its energetic tourism promotion efforts (avl.mx/55o), while a 2016 piece looked at the Tourism Development Authority’s image problem (avl.mx/55p). A 2015 article explored the costs and benefits of tourism — including then-Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith’s criticisms of the tax (avl.mx/55q). Additional info can be found on the Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau website (avl.mx/55r).