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.