What does a catchphrase like “sustainable tourism” mean here in Western North Carolina? How do you make it work at the ground level? Local businesses, organizations and public officials weigh in on what such a model might look like in the region.
With an annual economic impact of $2.6 billion, tourism is a critical industry in Western North Carolina. But politicians and local residents are increasingly asking whether the tourism industry is paying a fair share of the cost of providing everything from sidewalks to roads to public safety to tourists. Now, City Councilman Gordon Smith is pushing for a new study to consider the local tourism industry’s impact and sustainability.