Letter: TDA should put money where it’s urgently needed

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Sally Kestin’s “VIP Treatment: Tourism Tax Money Buys Massages, $250 Shirts and Dinners Costing Thousands” from Asheville Watchdog [Nov. 15] is some of the best investigative reporting that Xpress has ever published.

With several decades of complex sales in my rearview mirror, I appreciate that a well-executed marketing campaign for just about anything will create interest and drive revenue. But there is a difference between effectiveness and excessiveness, and some of the more egregious examples of blatantly out-of-control spending by the Tourism Development Authority described in the report are the very definition of gross excess.

So I have a suggestion for the TDA. Want to use your dollars really effectively to revitalize tourism in Asheville? Instead of flying cheese around the country or ordering $250 denim shirts for yourselves, give those urgently needed funds to Homeward Bound, ABCCM, Helpmate, BeLoved Asheville, Trinity Place and the many other worthy organizations that are getting the unhoused, the unfortunate and victims of domestic violence off our streets, out of downtown doorways and into safe housing for the day, for the night or forever. Shelter them; feed them; give them counseling; give them the resources and opportunity to be productive members of society.

As any downtown business owner will attest, the upsurge over the past several years in street dwellers, panhandlers and worse has driven tourists away, despite all your branded magnets and engraved tumblers. Put your money where it’s needed: Give it to local organizations that do not have your resources that are already helping the desperate to get on their feet and off the streets; reduce the unhoused and underserved population; make a difference in the world; make Asheville a better place to visit; and your tourists will come.

— Michael Breck


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Letter: TDA should put money where it’s urgently needed

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Ok, but remember that more than a few houseless people do not want to be housed. They want the freedom to trash our private and public property anywhere they choose.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.