January 26, 2023

Greetings on Behalf of the Buncombe County TDA

At yesterday’s Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) Board of Directors meeting, we shared annual lodging supply and demand updates, a new revenue forecast, and marketing updates based on our new storytelling foundation.   

  • For the first time in Buncombe County history, vacation rental room supply has exceeded the number of hotel rooms in 2022. Over the course of four years, including City Council’s Hotel Moratorium from September 2019 through February 2021 and the change in travel behaviors due to the COVID Pandemic, vacation rental supply grew by approximately 1 million rooms, which is more than three times the growth witnessed by hotels. 
  • FY22 saw record growth in visitor spending throughout our community, positively impacting restaurants, shops, art galleries, attractions, and tour providers. That influenced increased lodging tax revenue, reaching a historic $36.4 million. That growth spurred optimistic revenue projections for FY23 to $40.8 million. However, after five months of collections under our belts and with a cooling market, staff have adjusted revenue forecasts down to $36.6 million.  

This year brings many opportunities to our community, and Explore Asheville looks forward to exploring new avenues to balance the needs of visitors and residents. In February, the BCTDA will review an annual report on the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF), and in March the board will discuss the Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund at the Annual BCTDA Planning Meeting. Both funds are impacted by recent legislative changes that enable additional investment in capital projects for our community. As a public authority, we welcome public comments at board meetings, and yesterday, we heard from several community members expressing gratitude for the expansion of the use of lodging tax dollars and their personal concerns about housing affordability for service workers.  

We are also excited to shine a spotlight on two local restaurants that were just recognized as 2023 James Beard Awards Semifinalists. Neng Jr’s is a contender for Best New Restaurant and Chef Josiah McGaughey of Vivian was nominated for Best Chef in the Southeast. Our community is full of world-class experiences, and it is our privilege and honor to shine the spotlight on you. We look forward to continuing to lift up our community and support local businesses in gaining national recognition.  

Kathleen Mosher Chair


Commissioner Terri Wells Joins BCTDA
New Appointments to BCTDA Finance Committee

Buncombe County Commissioner Terri Wells joins the BCTDA as the new Ex-Officio Member, taking the place previously held by Robert Pressley. 

The BCTDA approved the appointment of this year's Finance Committee, whose primary responsibility is to develop a revenue objective for FY24, which begins on July 1, 2023. BCTDA Board Chair Kathleen Mosher of The Biltmore Company, Board Treasurer Mathew Lehman of The Grand Bohemian Hotel, Chip Craig of Greybeard Realty, and HP Patel of BCA Hotels were all appointed to this year's Finance Committee. The committee will also help advise Explore Asheville staff in developing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.


Lodging Tax Status, Looking Ahead
FY22 Tax Revenue Surpasses Baseline Projections; FY23 Forecast Adjustments

Lodging tax revenue for the fiscal year of 2022 yielded $36.4M; beating baseline projections and placing revenues slightly under the upside scenario forecasted by Tourism Economics. Last spring, the BCTDA Finance Committee recommended a revenue forecast of $40.8M for this fiscal year, representing a 12% increase over FY22.

Five months into the fiscal year, Buncombe County accrued $17.3M in lodging tax collections, so the adjusted revenue forecast is $36.6M, slightly more than the FY22 year-end revenue. The BCTDA will continue to monitor room nights stayed in Buncombe County and will provide a bi-annual expense forecast at the February BCTDA meeting. If tax collections continue on this trend, and expenses come in as budgeted, the BCTDA will draw down the additional $2.8M through the fund balance. 


Annual Lodging Occupancy
Lodging Accommodations Reach Higher Occupancy Collectively than Benchmark Year

Hotel partners reached a 70% occupancy rate gaining a one-point boost since 2021 and a three-point decrease from the benchmark year of 2019. Vacation rentals owned by Buncombe County residents came down to a 63% occupancy rate, witnessing a six-point decrease from 2021, its highest year on record. Yet they remained above pre-pandemic 2019 levels by four points.

Annual Supply and Demand Growth
Vacation Rentals Exceed Hotel Rooms Inventory in 2022

Supply and demand for visitor accommodations have risen, with vacation rental supply exceeding the inventory of hotel rooms last year. Over the course of four years, vacation rental supply grew by approximately 1 million rooms, which is more than three times the growth witnessed by hotels.

Demand for vacation rentals remains on par with hotel demand, although vacation rental demand has increased at a faster rate than hotel demand from 2021 to 2022. Yet, the demand for vacation rentals is not keeping up with the significant growth in vacation rental inventory.

Four-Year Snapshot on Supply Growth
Hotel Moratorium and Pandemic Catalyze Vacation Rental Growth

Looking closely at supply from 2019 to 2022, more vacation rentals entered the market than hotel rooms. Following Asheville City Council’s enactment of the Hotel Moratorium in September of 2019 and a change in travel behaviors in reaction to the COVID Pandemic, inventory flipped with vacation rentals growing to more than 50% of all visitor accommodations.


Highlights from the Inaugural January Partner Event
Asheville Superstar Awards, TPDF Video Debut, Industry Panels, and Storytelling Foundation

Nearly 300 community leaders and tourism industry partners gathered for last week’s inaugural event, The Year AheadIn addition to celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF), the program included the Asheville Superstar Award ceremony, the debut of the legacy TPDF video, three fast-paced industry panels, and a sneak peek at new aspects of Asheville’s storytelling foundation that includes new logos and a promotional video rolling out this spring. 

Full Recap of The Year Ahead Partner Event


Bucket List Promotions to Kick Off the Year
New Year's Eve and Rosebowl Parade Garnered More Than 17 Million Impressions

The new year is often a time for planning ahead, and it’s no different in the world of travel. To reach potential visitors Explore Asheville kicked off the new year with a promotion that encouraged viewers to put Buncombe County on their 2023 bucket lists. Through 30-second spots appearing during high-profile events, CNN’s New Year's Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen followed by the Rose Bowl Parade, our destination garnered more than 17 million impressions.

Content Partnerships that Expose Viewers to the Asheville Message
Meredith Corporations Partnership

Meredith Corporation publications inspire and empower the world’s most curious and passionate travelers to travel more and better. Each of their magazines reaches over 10 million readers and has over 13 million social followers and unique visitors.

From March to June, Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine will showcase the real makers, doers, and creators of Asheville through rich storytelling. Placements estimated to draw more than 16 million impressions, will highlight the unique paradoxes that foster a culture of individuality and collaboration, all rooted in a deep sense of community.  

Tripadvisor's Bluegrass Jam Sessions

Explore Asheville and Tripadvisor will produce intimate bluegrass concerts in unexpected, unique settings in Asheville to encourage visitors to disperse and explore the entire Asheville area beyond top attractions. By creating an exclusive music experience, we will draw visitors to Asheville and utilize digital offers to amplify these “Bluegrass Jam Sessions” and tell stories through songs, highlighting Asheville as a destination where music matters.

Passport Partnership

Our partnership with Passport Magazine, the go-to source for LBGTQIA+ travel information, puts media in places that reflect the diversity of our community. Explore Asheville and Passport will work closely with three diverse, LGBTQIA+ residents of Asheville who vary by gender, ethnicity, and age to bring to life a custom “Ask a Local” content feature highlighting the top places, experiences, and events residents recommend for visitors to Asheville.

Washington, D.C., Roadshow

Next month, Asheville’s creative spirit will be on display in Washington, D.C., in the form of out-of-home placements and a multi-sensory tasting event, What Does Music Taste Like? Biltmore Chardonnay, French Broad Chocolate, Spicewalla spices, and Chemist Gin are being scientifically tested and expertly paired with music with Asheville ties.

Building from a previous partnership with NOMADNESS founder, Evita Robinson, we will collectively host a paint ‘n sip event for 20 BIPOC creators and influencers led by Jenny Pickens.


Order Now for Delivery in February

More than 300,000 copies of the 2023 Official Visitor Guide are printed and ready for circulation. The new, travel-size version of the visitor guide features the wealth of authentic experiences and local attractions that establish Asheville as a world-class destination. Sustainability tips are breadcrumbed throughout the publication, encouraging visitors to leave no trace and experience Asheville like a local. Place your order now for delivery the week of February 13.  

Order the Official 2023 Visitor Guide

Find documents from the January 25 board meeting HERE >>

Wednesday, February 22 | 9 a.m.–11 a.m.
Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau | 27 College Place | Asheville
Details to be posted HERE >>

Delivering Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth | Encouraging Safe & Responsible Travel |
Engaging & Inviting More Diverse Audiences | Promoting & Supporting 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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