Letter: Locals get shafted by tourism industry

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Watch a Tourism Development Authority meeting online or read its meeting minutes, and it’s pretty clear that the tourist “industry” is busy hacking away at the foundations of life in Asheville.

But to experience just how far the corruption has spread, book a room in a hotel. The reservation will be accepted, and any deposit will be billed to your card, but when you arrive at the front desk, you will be told that it is hotel policy not to accommodate locals or anyone who lives within 50 miles. Apparently this is intended to prevent us from taking rooms that might be rented to the sainted tourists.

But what if your sewer line breaks, the water goes off or a big tree falls on your electric wire and Duke can’t get to you for a couple of days? Then, apparently, you have to drive out of town — or even out of the county — to find somewhere to stay.

No, I’m not making this up. It happened to us twice this month.

— Geoff Kemmish


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6 thoughts on “Letter: Locals get shafted by tourism industry

  1. joelharder

    Call the U.S. Department of Justice/ Civil Rights Division. The phone number is (202) 514-3847. or Toll-Free (855) 856-1247. DOJ encourages Americans to submit a report through the following link: https://civilrights.justice.gov/

    The Department of Justice can investigate possible violations of Title II if it believes there may be a “pattern or practice” of discrimination in a place of public accommodation. A “pattern or practice” generally means there is more than a single incident of discrimination; for example, a policy of discrimination or frequent incidents of discrimination could constitute a “pattern or practice.” The Department cannot investigate all Title II complaints it receives.

    If the Department files a lawsuit under Title II, it can ask a court to order the place of public accommodation to stop discriminating against you and others. The Department cannot obtain monetary damages for you or others who may have been harmed by the discrimination.

    Federal Law | Title II of the Civil Rights Act (Public Accommodations):

    42 U.S.C. §2000a(b) Each of the following establishments is a place of public accommodation within this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action: (1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence; (2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station; (3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and (4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of any such covered establishment.

    I encourage everyone to learn about their Civil Rights:

  2. NFB

    This is nothing new. These kind of hotel polices are common, have been around for years, and by no means unique to Asheville. They are usually in place as it isn’t unprecedented for hotels to have had the experience of locals renting rooms to host big parties that make a lot of noise and end up resulting in destructive behavior. I think more expensive hotels tend to be more receptive to renting to locals.

    In any case, look at it this way. If you have to go outside Buncombe County to rent a hotel room while you are placed out of your house, at least you aren’t paying the room tax to go to the BCTDA’s slush fund that they refuse to be allowed to be used for anything other than trying to bring even more tourists here.

    I agree with the letter writer that the BCTDA has minimal to zero interest in looking out of the interest of the community, and sees Asheville as nothing but a cash cow commodity to enrich its members and that it refuses to acknowledge to unsustainability of its insatiable drive for more, more, more, more, more tourists, but the reasons for the policy criticized in this letter go deeper than the ones suggested here.

    For more info:


  3. MV

    So happy that hotels and tourism industry numbers are down right now in Asheville. Much tough love needed…

  4. indy499

    Rented many times downtown and never had an issue. Maybe the lw is on a special no rent list

  5. Godslayer

    The reason local hotels have this rule is to prevent their rooms from being used not only for parties, but for prostitution. (BTW, it’s not a civil rights violation because place of residence is not a protected class. I recommend ignoring legal advice from non-lawyers).

  6. Zodwa

    Not all hotels do this. Downtown Inn has been doing this for about 20 years. This was to prevent the prostitution they encountered. Rent the room for a day and turn tricks by the hour. Many hotels offer Staycations now, so you just have to ask them what their policy is.

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