Months before the pandemic, local hotel leadership advocated for a change in the way the occupancy tax is allocated in Buncombe County, pursuing more funding for investment in community projects related to tourism and decreased funding for promoting Asheville and Buncombe County to visitors.
Those efforts continue and momentum is building to change the existing allocation of three-quarters of the occupancy tax to be used for tourism promotion and one-quarter for projects expected to increase visitation to the community, to a split of two-thirds/one-third. (That's the maximum allowable under state guidelines that govern more than 150 local occupancy tax legislations in North Carolina.)
At the Legislative Breakfast hosted by Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce on May 23, Sen. Chuck Edwards said "it looks good" that occupancy tax changes will move in the short legislative session now underway in Raleigh. In addition to advocacy by members of the Asheville Buncombe Hotel Association – a group chaired by Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board member Michael Lusick – the Buncombe County Commissioners at their recent meeting approved a resolution supporting reform of the tax.
Taking into consideration potential legislative changes that, if introduced, will impact the allocation, Explore Asheville staff with assistance from the Buncombe County TDA Finance Committee, chaired by Highland Brewing Company President & CEO Leah Ashburn, prepared two budget scenarios for fiscal year 2023, presented at the May meeting of the BCTDA. 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.