Two years after the global pandemic devastated the local economy, Asheville is experiencing a dramatic recovery. Most of the tourism community is enjoying success that often exceeds even the benchmark year of 2019 – from food and beverage purveyors to outdoor outfitters, attraction and tour operators, wedding planners, lodgers and retailers. The notable exception is some of the indoor arts spaces, to which local patrons and visitors are returning at a slower pace.
While it will be later this summer before final numbers are in, direct spending by visitors in calendar year 2021 is projected to approach $3 billion – up from $2.2 billion in the benchmark year of 2019 and $1.6 billion in 2020. That's excellent news for local small-business owners who rely on visitors in addition to residents to sustain their year-round operations and jobs for area residents.
There's also been good news for local residents who own vacation rental properties, as we've reported in this space numerous times. The growth in vacation rental occupancy tax collections is expected to be up $8 million from FY19 through the end of this fiscal year in June – that's sales growth of 180%. Growth in hotel occupancy is estimated to be up $3.4 million (sales growth of 17%).
Fold in pent-up demand – 90% of American travelers say they have plans to travel in the next six months, despite concerns over gas prices – and these are just some of the trends and statistics that the BCTDA Finance Committee considered in establishing a revenue objective for the coming fiscal year. We invite you to read more below.
The Buncombe County TDA has the fiduciary responsibility to ensure that occupancy tax dollars are spent in accordance with the specific legislation governing their use. Our goal is balancing this responsibility with the needs of local residents and guests to our community who are vital in sustaining economic stability. We value your continued partnership in these efforts.