Futurist charts course for Asheville and Buncombe County

As she wrapped up her work on the AVL Greater and AVL 5×5 2025 plans in late September, we chatted with futurist Rebecca Ryan about her upcoming encore keynote address at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s WomanUP gala on Thursday, Nov. 18, what makes Asheville and Buncombe County different and how we’ll know if the area is on track to make good on the new strategies.

Change of face: Attracting diverse visitors to a mostly white city

Local tourism operators are sensing a shift in the racial makeup of visitors to the Asheville area. Though the data don’t definitively support that conclusion — at least not yet — efforts to make Asheville a more welcoming and inclusive destination continue, as do fledgling initiatives to give minority tourism entrepreneurs a bigger piece of the industry’s pie.

Stephanie Pace Brown at podium

BCTDA shares tourism growth plans at annual meeting

Roughly 1,600 new hotel rooms have opened in Buncombe County since late 2015 — an increase of approximately 15 percent over that period — with 1,900 still planned. “Since the start of this construction cycle, we’ve been able to fully absorb a pretty enormous supply,” said Explore Asheville President and CEO Stephanie Pace Brown. “We just need to do that over again in the next three or four years.”