The event, hosted by Explore Asheville, featured presentations on the tensions between the cost and benefits of Asheville’s increased visitations.
On top of the $1.3 million Asheville paid to sponsor the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the public tourism board spent more than $70,000 in expenses that included catering and travel for their staff, board members and guests, nearly $25,000 on Asheville-branded beer coozies, and more than $1,000 on floral arrangements.
The U.S. Open winds to a close this weekend in New York, and among those attending in the luxury suites at the tennis Grand Slam event will be more than two dozen Buncombe County VIPs – courtesy of the public tourism board and $1.3 million in local tax money.
Mobile-home owners can now receive the grants, while those who own multiple dwellings or receive other tax reductions will no longer be eligible. Those with “liquid resources” (cash or financial assets that could be converted to cash within a week) of more than $60,000 will also be disqualified, a change from the terms recommended by county staff.
The Trashy Vegan owners launch a new doughnut shop in Black Mountain. Plus: Asheville Restaurant Week 2022 arrives; Spicewalla and Poppy’s Handcrafted Popcorn collaborate; and plenty more!
The Tourism Product Development Fund totaled over $7.8 million as of Sept. 30.
The amount of money brought in by these short-term rentals in Buncombe County during the first half of this year was up 131% compared with STR revenue for January through June 2019. Consumer preferences — and choices to be made by government officials locally and in Raleigh — will affect the size of that gravy train and who will benefit from it in the years to come.
More than 180 guests attended the event at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
The TDA would spend at least $10.6 million on advertising buys, an 8% increase over its last pre-pandemic fiscal year. Just over $3 million would go toward the production of new content, with the remainder of the marketing budget spent on research.
The move drew mixed feelings from some board members, driven not by the project itself but by what they suggested was an unclear process for distributing funds.
At its March 25 regular meeting, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board unanimously approved a projection that occupancy tax revenue would exceed $27 million for fiscal year 2021-22 — 15% more than projected for the current fiscal year, which ends in June, and 9% more than the year before the pandemic.
“Most people I know working in the ‘hospitality field’ are struggling to meet the recently announced $17-plus per hour living wage threshold and facing rising property taxes.”
Victoria “Vic” Isley, the new president and CEO of the Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, says new paid advertising for Asheville, an expansion of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board to include short-term rental owners and changes to occupancy tax allocation are all on the table in 2021.
It’s time to celebrate the creativity of our community’s response to the pandemic, even as we acknowledge the pain, uncertainty and loss that surely still lie ahead. Community members weigh in on the successes that fill them with pride as they look back on 2020.
Xpress Assistant Editor Daniel Walton and local community figures discuss how the year’s events have accelerated many of the issues that were already facing Western North Carolina.