Thanks to Adrienne Fortune from Vermont for your letter [“Will I Be Welcome in Asheville?” July 11, Xpress] and curiosity about visiting our beautiful, free-spirited city. Asheville is indeed an accepting and welcoming place that has earned a reputation as one of America’s best places to visit and live.
More than 25,000 jobs in our community rely on visitors like you. One thousand local businesses offer unique visitor experiences every day, including attractions, recreation, tours, restaurants, farms, art, theaters, shops, breweries, music and more. And the businesses and experiences that make Asheville a special place to visit are loved by locals, too.
Asheville absolutely depends on and appreciates its guests. People have been visiting these mountains for more than 100 years. Since the inception of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority 35 years ago, visitor spending has increased from less than $200 million to more than $2 billion every year, generating more than $203 million in tax revenue.
It wasn’t long ago that businesses closed during the winter season. Tourism promotion has built a national reputation that has helped attract new investment, created jobs of all kinds and offered a year-round path to success for our cherished small businesses. Buncombe County now has the lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina.
Your choice to visit Asheville provides greenways, sports facilities, theater renovations, new museums and other infrastructure improvements. These community assets — enjoyed by both locals and visitors — are funded by 25 percent of hotel taxes through the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s grant program. Since 2001, $34.5 million has been invested in 33 community projects — including $22 million to city of Asheville-owned projects.
Asheville faces challenges common to successful places — increasing housing prices, infrastructure and public-service needs, workforce development issues, etc. The passionate responses of our community on these issues illustrate the growing pains faced by Asheville and many other destinations that are growing. Truth is, they are important to all of us who live and work here and care deeply about our mountain home.
I hope you will visit our vibrant and welcoming city. We promise you a memorable and enriching experience. When you visit a honey-tasting shop, local record store or family farm, know that your support helps us to thrive and live our passions here in Asheville.
— Stephanie Pace Brown
Explore Asheville President and CEO