The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority's fiscal year wraps up this week on a high note. Although Asheville hotels and vacation rentals experienced a slight dip in occupancy – an impact of rising gas prices, according to travel sentiment research fielded by Longwoods International in mid-June – 91% of American travelers indicate they still plan to travel in the next six months.
And while they may choose destinations closer to home or reduce the number of trips, air travel to Asheville Regional Airport is up 71% year-to-date, on pace to exceed the peak year of 2019.
We invite you to read other insights from recent travel sentiment research below. We'll continue to watch these trends as we enter the new fiscal year on July 1 and adjust marketing plans as needed.
Following a public hearing at today's meeting of the Buncombe County TDA, board members approved the budget for FY23. It follows existing legislation that requires three-quarters of occupancy tax allocations to be used for tourism promotion and one-quarter for community capital projects.
As we publish this newsletter, a proposed bill filed June 1 by Senators Edwards, Daniel, and Mayfield is making its way through the NC General Assembly. House Bill 1057 (HB1057) would change the occupancy tax split to two-thirds/one-third, increasing funding for investment in community capital projects and decreasing funding for promoting Asheville and Buncombe County to visitors.
The Buncombe County occupancy tax provision passed the North Carolina Senate yesterday through HB1057. It was then read in the House and referred to the House Rules Committee. If the provision passes the House and becomes law, the BCTDA board will be presented a budget amendment in the July meeting that complies with the new law and its effective date.
These are long-awaited changes, for which local hotel leaders as well as Buncombe County Commissioners and our local delegation have advocated since long before the pandemic. We are keeping a close watch on this situation and will keep you informed.