Letter: Redirect tourism spending toward other needs

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “‘Invest Back Into Our Community’: Local Leaders Call for TDA to Reduce Its Tourism Marketing Budget,” Nov. 22, Asheville Watchdog via Xpress:]

Redirect Tourism Development Authority money to help with housing affordability; to offer deeply affordable child care; improve public transportation; and increase wages of workers in the tourist service industries. Oh, and some funding crumbs to the artists who are one of our primary attractions.

The TDA could sponsor (pay for) events like Caveats for Collectors (of art), hiking/biking for novice enthusiasts, mountain music, etc., which focus on “what we do well” and could feature and hire folks in these areas to be speakers or hosts and so promote our locals individually.

I don’t think it is fair to spend TDA money on lavish travel or dinners to attract tourists.

Glad to see Sen. Julie Mayfield and others are talking about and supporting the idea of our locals and infrastructures being beneficiaries.

— Carol Anders


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Redirect tourism spending toward other needs

  1. James

    I hope that there is a way to redirect some of these funds in the future, I really do. But ..

    We don’t get to say how much TDA money is spent on expanding tourism. The state legislature determines that.

    Judging from the litany of letters reiterating this same theme, replete with actual numerical suggestions, I’m guessing that this is either a concerted grassroots effort or that MX asked for input on other uses for this funding that I missed.

    • MV

      It’s probably collective frustration boiling over. Actual tax paying residents realizing that we’re squandering great wads of cash that could help fund many needs, which would lessen the need to go begging from state and federal resources. But our lame GOP legislators would rather create a welfare state and then blame failure on others.

  2. Lisa

    Interesting observation, James.

    The TDA does sponsor festivals and cultural events each year. You can read about them here: https://www.ashevillecvb.com/festivals-and-cultural-events-support-fund/

    The TDA has invested $80 million in community capital projects like greenways, parks, ballfields, cultural amenities and more. You can read about that here: https://www.ashevillecvb.com/product-development/

    Seems like the recent “coverage” of tourism tax dollars paid by visitors, not residents, has muddied the waters even more for area residents, instead of clarifying how occupancy tax works in our state. Why do we expect others to pay for services for us? County and city collect sales tax, property tax, fees to fund services for residents. https://www.buncombecounty.org/common/budget-management/reports/fiscal-year-2021-22/fy22-budget-in-brief.pdf

    Above and beyond the lodging tax, visitor spending, visitor supported jobs, and business sales generated $394 million in government revenues. We should be holding our city and county leaders accountable for delivering effective services for the taxes we pay.

    • kw

      Yes, we should hold city and county leaders accountable. And yes, room tax dollars could do much more for infrastructure than they do. Both are true.

  3. Westworldemployee7

    Those are some great ideas … especially the daycare suggestion. I’ve met a lot of single moms that are forced to stay home due to unaffordable daycare.

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