More than 400 community leaders and entrepreneurs gathered on Jan. 31 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton for Explore Asheville’s annual partner event, “The Year Ahead.” Led by BCTDA President and CEO of Explore Asheville Vic Isley, four panels of local business owners and community leaders highlighted upcoming developments and events.
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board heard a quarterly progress report from Explore Asheville, the TDA’s marketing agency, regarding the authority’s strategic goals and initiatives at its Jan. 24 meeting. Highlights included the launch of a new Asheville-focused destination app, the upcoming redesign of the Explore Asheville website and the unveiling of the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail, which was funded by a $500,000 Tourism Product Development Fund investment in 2018.
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority unanimously approved a total of $100,000 in funding for 25 local events and festivals at its Nov. 29 board meeting. According to Tiffany Thacker, director of grants for Explore Asheville, the investment in the projects will “enhance local experiences for both residents and visitors.”
The approved projects include upgrades to the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville and an outdoor covered equestrian arena for the WNC Agricultural Center as well as new turf, lighting and a playground for the Enka Recreation Destination.
Despite a consultant’s recommendations to merge the Buncombe County Tourism and Development Authority and the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, BCTDA President and CEO of Explore Asheville Vic Isley said at the Sept. 27 BCTDA board meeting she intends to vote to keep the Sports Commission independent.
Historically, July is the second busiest month for tourism in Buncombe County, superseded only by October. Yet, this year’s downward trend in overall lodging revenue and occupancy continued into the summer’s busy season.
It took two tries for the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to approve spending nearly $23 million over 20 years for Asheville’s McCormick Field Centennial Restoration & Capital Improvements Project at its July 26 meeting. The motion to fund the project failed 6-2 on the first vote and passed 7-1 after the board voted again 25 minutes later.
Small-business owners recognize that they not only add value but are a driving force behind the popularity of this quirky city.
Unlike Asheville and Buncombe County governments, which ended the practice of live remote comment after their return to in-person meetings, the BCTDA will continue to allow members of the public to call into live meetings to comment — an option that was not offered before the pandemic.
“This kind of denial of how tourism has negatively impacted people who live here will only infuriate them more.”
A survey released from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority reveals a mixture of attitudes concerning tourism from residents.
“Apparently, if locals want answers, they should demand them at the next election, which, I understand has been put off for another year.”
“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.”
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority held its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Items on the agenda included a first look at the new Foodtopia marketing campaign and a study recommending changes to the Tourism Product Development Fund.