“Asheville, we can do better! We are killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs.”
“People who visit Buncombe County spend $2 billion each year on restaurants, attractions, entertainment, recreation, the arts and lodging, creating jobs for 27,000 people in our community.”
“I understand that we’re not supposed to stand in the way of progress, but is a downtown that serves tourists at the expense of residents the progress we want? When is enough enough?”
Readers, you had a lot to say about local politics and civic goings-on in the region this year. From tourism and development to bears and the county government scandal, here’s a look back at some of the hot topics that sparked your opinions.
“I recently walked around the whole area and found only one African-American face, and that was on one brochure, of what seemed like hundreds, for a county assistance agency. What does that say to a black resident or visitor?”
“The city allowed the builder to go through all the expensive steps required to get total approval from all regulatory agencies, and then several Council members announced their intent to vote against it because, in their great wisdom, they have made the arbitrary decision that Asheville already has too many hotels.”
“I really wish Council would adjust their priorities and think of us who pay extra fees for our vehicles ($30), dog licenses ($10), chicken registration ($25) and so much more — the 2018 Fees and Charges Manual is over 120 pages and is an interesting read.”
“How can this law change so that maybe the city can receive a higher percentage of hotel tax toward things that matter to maintain the city’s needs or even — ha, ha — go toward affordable workforce housing?”
“Most urgently, gentrification is creating a demand for buildable lots and houses within the city limits that is invading our historic African-American neighborhoods and displacing lifelong residents who have been here for generations.”
“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.”
“Asheville is the cultural mecca it is due to the spirit of all those who have been here for generations welcoming the rest of us.”
“Am I welcome in your town? Almost daily, I see another jab at ‘the tourists.’ We seem to be the bane of your existence.”
“Most amazing is Gatlinburg’s pioneering waste processing plant, which attracts observers from around the world and turns the idea of recycling on its head.”
Qualitative findings, paired with broader, quantitative surveys, support Explore Asheville’s ongoing quest to better understand its expanding roster of target markets. Because while Asheville’s total visitation numbers continue to rise, so do those of other destinations that are competing for the same tourist dollars.
At an April 23 meeting of his cabinet at UNC Asheville, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper brought state leadership to the Western part of the state for a special focus on the issues and perspectives of the region.
“I know tourism is important to the local economy, but considering the low wages generated by tourism, I think City Council should do more to improve the lives of Asheville citizens.”
Asheville City Council continued its quest to crack down on whole-house and whole-unit short-term rentals at its Oct. 24 meeting, as it also approved a 70-room hotel project in the River Arts District and showed warm support for giving more staff time to the Energy Innovation Task Force.
The dreary Wednesday morning weather couldn’t put a damper on a 1 p.m. reception celebrating the new office location of the recently-rebranded Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Asheville’s bustling economy owes much to the city’s continued popularity as a tourist destination, but the area is also benefiting from a wave of local business expansions.
While reviewing recent results and planning for the coming year at its annual strategic planning retreat, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority also grappled with its biggest challenge — convincing locals that the tourism industry is a positive force in the region.