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9 thoughts on “Luxury travel

  1. Frank

    More misguided and misleading drivel. Disappointing but not surprising. Interested in facts? Projects possible through $80 million in matching grants from the TDA:
    African American Heritage Museum at Stephens-Lee
    African American Heritage Trail
    Asheville Art Museum
    Asheville Community Theatre
    Asheville Municipal Golf Course
    Asheville Museum of Science
    Asheville Visitor Center
    AVL Unpaved
    Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
    Buncombe County Civil War Trails
    Center for Craft
    Harrah’s Cherokee Center Arena
    Enka Recreation Destination
    Enka Center Ballfields
    Glass Center in Black Mountain
    Grove Arcade
    Highland Brewing Company Event Center
    John B. Lewis Soccer Complex
    LEAF Global Arts Center
    McCormick Field
    Montreat College Pulliam Stadium
    Navitat Canopy Adventures
    North Carolina Arboretum
    Pack Square Park
    River Arts District
    RiverLink – Karen Cragnolin Park
    Smoky Mountain Adventure Center
    Swannanoa River Greenway
    The Collider
    The Orange Peel
    UNC Asheville Karl Straus Track
    UNC Asheville Sports Complex Lighting
    WNC Farmers Market
    WNC Nature Center
    WNC Veterans’ Memorial at Pack Square Park
    Woodfin Greenway & Blueway
    Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
    YMI Cultural Center

    • NFB

      Interested in fact? Here’s another one.

      Amount of room tax money that went to support infrastructure and services that tourists use: $0.00.

      Effort TDA has made to make changes to the law that would allow some of the room tax to help support infrastructure and services that tourists use: zilch.

      The TDA has brought this animosity on it self with its arrogance, disdain, and flat our contempt it has shown to the local taxpayers in its refusal to support any changes to the law that would allow some of its slush fund to go to these services. It could earn some good will by doing so but instead it is adamant in not doing so. As long as it continues to give locals the middle finger on this issue expect more cartoons such as this which, I might add, is completely factual.

      • Frank

        Your facts are funny. You should check them, and your own post.
        Data shows that many residents AND visitors utilize the dozens of infrastructure projects above.
        Facts also show that visitor-supported businesses pay their fair share of property taxes and generate millions in sales tax dollars to support local infrastructure. Fact check: many of the roads that visitors AND residents use in our area are maintained by NCDOT.

        Local hoteliers, many whose families have been here for generations, have supported the change to occupancy tax usage, and have gotten nothing but grief and disdain still. It will never be enough.

        When the tourists stop coming, the money stops flowing. It’s easy for the City and the County to point the finger at the TDA, but it’s their job, their job, to prioritize services with tax payer dollars.

        • NFB

          Nothing on your list is “infrastructure.” It is to boost things that will draw more tourists.

          Yes, much — even most of them maybe all of them — benefit the local community by being available to it, but the only “changes” the local hoteliers have supported to the law was the nominal shift from 75% for marketing to 66%. Still not ONE PENNY of the room tax can go to support sidewalk improvement, police and fire protection, affordable housing, etc.

          A few years back there was a suggestion that the room tax be raised from its then 4% to 6% with the extra portion going to help locals pay for the infrastructure that tourists use. The TDA was firmly opposed to that idea even though it would not change the amount of money they got to play with. Their argument was that it would make the cost of rooms too expensive and we would lose business to Myrtle Beach and Gatlinburg (as if either of those places have the Biltmore House, downtown Asheville, etc.)

          A couple of years later the TDA started freaking out about so many new hotels being built and how there might not be enough beds for all those heads. What did it do? It advocated for raising the room tax from 4% to 6%. They got it passed in the legislature and then got Buncombe County Commission to approval for it for Buncombe County. Suddenly, they weren’t concerned about making hotel rooms too expensive since it went to them.

          When people request the TDA’s support for changes to the law so that some of the room tax go to local needs they say they are not a lobbying group. Yet the lobbied for the 4% to 6% tax increase, and during covid lockdown they lobbied to be allowed to use the marketing money to be used for grants to help out businesses during those shutowns (but ONLY tourist business, other businesses had to fend for themselves.)

          Tourism does a LOT of good for the community. Many of the downtown restaurants, concert venues, etc. that so many locals enjoy would not be here if not for the large number of tourists. I get that. I respect that.

          What I don’t respect is that all too often the TDA seems to sees Asheville as simply a commodity to be promoted and sold and not a community to live in. It consistent refusal to support any changes to the law that don’t directly benefit it and its slush fund is the reason there is such a negative view of them in Asheville.

          Asheville has been a tourist town virtually since its founding when people from Atlanta, Charleston, Wilmington, etc. discovered it was cooler here in the summer. That is not going to change anytime soon, nor should it. But the constant contempt the TDA shows, and its inability and unwillingness to understand why local residents are so frustrated with it is a clear display of indifference to the negative effect tourism also brings with it.

          Until the TDA shows more willingness to engage with the community on these issues and continues cartoons like this will continue.

          • Hiram

            Exactly. TDA board members and staff often seem tone deaf, and they completely miss out on many opportunities to be better partners with this city and its residents who, for example, may not have an interest in (or funds to attend) Farm System Baseball and drink $8 draft beers from plastic cups…but would like to see funds go to improve the water system, bolster teacher/police salaries, conserve a forest or park, improve quality of life in working class mixed-race neighborhoods that are negatively impacted by the constant selling/selling out of our town.

          • Frank

            Let’s give this one more go. The BCTDA board and staff live and work and employee people in Buncombe County.

            Residents *should* be frustrated because their hard-earned tax dollars (including those who earn their living in tourism) paid to city and county government are not invested wisely in basic public services.

            Ask artists in our community who buys their works – it is buy and large visitors that sustain the livelihood of artists.

            Until we are willing to have mature conversations about who is responsible for what, and why we don’t hold our government officials accountable, I guess it’s just easier to point the finger elsewhere.

            LEGALLY, occupancy tax in NC can’t be used for police, sidewalks, or affordable housing. This city has turned away millions of dollars in private development dollars that could have built housing here – and now they have asked residents to pay for it through bonds – and now they are asking visitors to pay for it. Since 1998, way before tourism revitalized this place, city council had identified affordable housing as a priority.
            Good luck at the ballot box next year.

  2. Hiram

    Frank, I believe that most intelligent humans will agree that we may simultaneously have dysfunctional elected officials and a massively wasteful TDA. I appreciate seeing the article from 25 years ago, though it’s thoroughly depressing to see how miserably this city has been managed for decades…

  3. NFB

    “LEGALLY, occupancy tax in NC can’t be used for police, sidewalks, or affordable housing.”

    Which is why people are advocating the the law be changed. Yet the TDA refuses to cooperate with any such effort, has opposed raising the room tax in the past for these services but works to get the law changed to raise the tax when it goes to their slush fund. This is why the TDA has such a negative public image. They show disdain for the public and then clutch their pearl when the public doesn’t fawn over everything they do.

    Guess what. The hotel industry would benefit greatly from more affordable housing, so that the people who clean the rooms tourists use can have a place to leave rather than commute from Canton, Marion, etc. Tourism has a direct effect on housing costs because a heft number of new residents, who help drive up housing costs when they move here first came her as tourists thanks to the TDA’s ad campaign.

    I recognize that tourism has done a lot of good for Asheville and I do not advocate for the abolishing of the TDA. I just think that the TDA should acknowledge some of the negative effects tourism does have and agree that tourists should be the ones to pay for part of the countering of that.

    But the TDA wants Asheville to be a mill town. The kind of mill town where NOBODY dares speak ill of the golden goose no matter what it does and no matter what negative effects it has on the community.

    In many other communities, including in North Carolina, a portion of the occupancy taxes goes to the types of things many in Asheville would like to see it go for here. Why is this considered so outlandish and unreasonable the TDA?

  4. Bright

    Listen up, Ashes. “…all too often the TDA seems to sees Asheville as simply a commodity to be promoted and sold and not a community to live in. It consistent refusal to support any changes to the law that don’t directly benefit it and its slush fund, is the reason there is such a negative view of them in Asheville.”

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