August 31, 2022

Greetings on behalf of the Buncombe County TDA

This month’s board meeting was held at Center for Craft, a cultural venue that was supported through a previous $975,000 Tourism Product Development Fund grant. We covered several important topics for our entire community:

In BCTDA board composition updates, Larry Crosby has been reappointed by the City of Asheville, representing lodging with fewer than 101 rooms. Leah Ashburn, who was appointed as a tourism-related board member by Buncombe County, finishes her second term this month. She will stay on until a new board member is appointed. The resulting vacancy on the board, per new legislation, will be filled by a County-appointed vacation rental owner or vacation rental management company owner. The opening is currently posted on the County’s website.


Kathleen Mosher Chair


Destination Performance Update

Lodging occupancy has lagged for the last three months. July 2022 hotel occupancy was down four points from 2019 levels and down six points from 2021. July 2022 vacation rental occupancy was up three points from 2019 levels but down ten points from 2021. Performance of lodging partners is a leading indicator of other business category revenue because Buncombe County visitors spend 69% on experiences like food and beverage, outdoor recreation, entertainment, and shopping -- and 31% for lodging.


July Lodging


Two previously approved TPDF projects – the Enka Recreation Destination and the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway Project – were granted additional requested expanded funding towards completion of these significant new assets for both locals and visitors.

The Enka Recreation Destination will be a premiere sports facility with three turf soccer field conversions, lighting at Bob Lewis Ballpark plus the Enka Heritage Trail, including two miles of greenway. Buncombe County Commissioners recently augmented spending with a matching fund of $750,000 and BCTDA board approved the matching funds today. The project is scheduled for completion in October 2022.

Enka Recreation Destination

2018 TPDF Award


2022 TPDF Award


Total TPDF Award


Total Project Cost



The Woodfin Greenway & Blueway project includes five miles of greenway trails, Riverside Park, Silverline Park on the French Broad River and the in-stream Whitewater Wave feature which has recently been evaluated and heightened for proper river flow conditions and optimum performance. The additional 3.5 acres of Riverside Park bring the project‘s footprint to a total of 8.6 acres and will include a viewing pavilion, terraced boulder seating and expanded parking. Silver Line Park opened in April of this year. These shovel-ready projects including Riverside Park and the Wave are expected to be completed by the end of 2024. With today's award, the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway is now the largest funded project in the history of TPDF.

Woodfin Greenway & Blueway 

2017 TPDF Award


2022 TPDF Award


Total TPDF Award


Total Project Cost


Woodfin Greenway & Blueway site plan

The Woodfin wave project is also projected to have significant visitation impact as a world-class outdoor recreation feature and will further solidify Asheville as an outdoor mecca destination. Open to the general public, this new asset will be accessible to everyone in the community.

In addition to enhancing the already established improvements in the River Arts District, the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway project is an example of full alignment with our Key Strategic Imperative Pillars.

Phase II applications for the FY23 Tourism Product Development Fund Grant Cycle were due today, August 31. Awards will be decided in the October 26 BCTDA board meeting.


Festivals & Cultural Events Annual Grant Program Open

Explore Asheville’s annual Festivals and Cultural Events Annual Grant Program, funded through earned revenue from the Explore Asheville website, opened registration August 29 with an application deadline of September 27. Nonprofit partners are eligible to apply for event funding; $100,000 is available in this cycle and will be awarded in the amounts of $1,000 to $5,000 per event. Grant recipients will be announced October 26.



Marketing Response to Slowing Demand

In response to slowing occupancy rates over the past three months, a robust marketing response is in play, including leveraging already established strategic partnerships  Along with promising fall color predictions, outreach to primary drive and fly markets will emphasize both ease and attractiveness of last-minute travel as well as our value proposition as a destination.

Marketing will utilize existing programmatic platforms as well as mobile rich media, geo-fencing, paid social, an alignment with enhanced Asheville nonstop air service and the addition of linear television advertising in four key markets. Ongoing content partnerships and the continuation of Creative Spirit messaging provide a solid marketing foundation while we exercise responsive flexibility in the marketplace.

Explore Asheville’s exclusive destination sponsorship of this year’s US Open currently underway provides us with a highly visible platform (100+ hours of live coverage shared worldwide and an on-campus attendance of 700,000 fans over two weeks) to showcase Asheville as a creative, vibrant community for leisure travel, business groups and sports events. Asheville is only the second city in history to host three Billie Jean King Cup matches and earlier this year, the Billie Jean King event generated $8 million for local businesses and created opportunities for community engagement.

As part of Asheville’s sponsorship, September 7 at the US Open will be “Asheville night,” featuring two young members of the Junior Asheville Tennis Association. Explore Asheville will sponsor Kiran Kudva, 13, and Jia Hindan, 17, as they travel to NYC to escort the coin-toss official on-court and attend the match. Explore Asheville and the Asheville Tennis Association will co-host a viewing party for their respective partners and members at Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium that evening. Space for the viewing event is limited and registration is required. Register Here



The BCTDA Annual Meeting is scheduled for September 22 at the DoubleTree Hotel Biltmore from 3-6pm. Keynote speaker Wendy Smith, author of Both/And Thinking, will inspire us to embrace paradoxes in our community and in our industry and utilize them to deepen our connections. Also at the meeting, MMGY’s Stewart Colovin will provide an update on our strategic storytelling initiative.

In addition, we will also present the William A.V. Cecil Tourism Leadership Award at the meeting followed by an entertaining networking reception. Register today!

Find documents from the August 31 board meeting HERE >>

Wednesday, September 28 | 9 a.m.–11 a.m.
Explore Asheville | 27 College Place | Asheville
Details to be posted HERE >>

Deliver Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth | Encourage Safe & Responsible Travel |
Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences | Promote & Support Asheville's Creative Spirit

Follow Our Progress

Established by state law to administer the occupancy tax paid by overnight visitors according to the enabling legislation, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is a public authority with a public purpose to enhance the economic vitality of Buncombe County. It is led by 11 local, appointed volunteers (two of whom are ex-officio members) who provide professional expertise to ensure the effective use of the tax to benefit our community and the people who live here. BCTDA meetings are open to the public.

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