March 21, 2024

This week we welcome spring season, warmer weather, and an economic outlook for our community. Visitors play a vital role in our community’s economy, supporting our local businesses and contributing to local government revenues. Their direct spending contributes $2.6 billion annually, making up 20% of Buncombe County’s GDP.

Setting the table for a stable economic year, the board approved a relatively flat net lodging tax revenue forecast of $34.3 million for FY25. This forecast guides how we invest in activities that inspire visitors to walk through the front doors of local businesses and fuel our economy with net new dollars. Later today, local lodging and hospitality leadership will receive an 18-month lodging forecast and outlook on visitor spending from our longtime economic partner Tourism Economics.

Takeaways from the March board meeting include:

We also recognize that the success of our economy relies on the dedication and hard work of our travel and hospitality industry workers. This National Travel & Hospitality Week in May, we will be recognizing individuals who have provided exemplary service in our industry. Please nominate non-managerial employee or volunteer who’s gone above and beyond in the name of service for our inaugural Heroes of Hospitality Awards before April 12. 

Brenda Durden Chair
Vic Isley signature
February Occupancy Exhibits a Settling of the Market  
Concurrent with Nationwide Trends and Economic Conditions

Feb. 2024 hotel occupancy was 50%, down eight points from 2019 and five points from 2023. Feb. 2024 vacation rental occupancy was 40%, up one one point from 2019 and down one point from 2023, settling back towards pre-pandemic trends.

Feb. 2024 hotel demand grew 3% from 2019 and was down 4% from 2023. Feb. 2024 vacation rental demand grew 112% from 2019 and 15% from 2023. 

View the Latest Destination Dashboards (Jan.)
BCTDA Approves Forecasted Lodging Tax Revenues
Tourism Economics Scenarios Inform Upcoming Budget

The BCTDA approved the Finance Committee's recommendation to establish a FY25 net lodging revenue forecast of $34.3 million. The total FY25 lodging tax forecast, including the Buncombe County administrative fee, is $36.1 million. The committee anticipates a 5% decrease in net lodging tax revenues, but only a 1% decrease in gross lodging tax revenues due to the County's increased fee. These estimates were informed by a thorough review of three economic outlooks produced by research analysts at Tourism Economics.

  • The upside scenario projects lodging tax revenues to reach $39 million
  • The baseline scenario projects lodging tax revenues to reach $35 million
  • The downside scenario projects lodging tax revenues to reach $31 million

The Finance Committee’s lodging tax revenue forecast of $34.3 million is slightly below the baseline scenario and relatively flat to what is expected to be generated in this FY24.  

Two New Members Join the TPDF Committee
Randy Claybrook and Michael Andry Begin Serving in 2024 Cycle

Following the nominating committee’s recommendation, the BCTDA approved two new members, Randy Claybrook of Bent Creek Lodge and Michael Andry of Morgan Stanley, to serve on the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) Committee. This volunteer group makes recommendations to the authority for investing in major tourism capital projects that will increase patronage of lodging facilities in and further economic development of Buncombe County. These candidates were selected to fill lodging and finance appointment vacancies per legislative requirements.

Through TPDF, the authority has committed more than $86 million through 64 investments in 41 community projects since 2001. Project investments have included greenways, parks, public art, sports and recreation facilities, cultural heritage institutions, and other family attractions. 

Learn more about the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF)
$9.6M Projected in Direct Spending from Confirmed
Explore Asheville Sporting Events

26 Sporting Events in Buncombe County Mid-March Through October

On the heels of SoCon, Explore Asheville shared a lineup of sports events that our business development team booked in Buncombe County and at venues that have received investment through the TPDF. This spring through fall, the Explore Asheville secured 26 sporting events that welcome visiting athletes and families who are projected to spend nearly $10 million in our community and stay for more than 10,000 roomnights. We expect that number to increase through the booking of shorter lead turn-around events.

Sporting events comprise approximately 35% of all booked roomnights by our team. Nearly half of facilities hosting these events are previous TPDF recipients, which help encourage visitor spending and dispersal throughout the county. Working with Sports Commission and Harrah's Cherokee Center-Asheville partners, we will share the economic impact of SoCon basketball tournament in April.

Nominate an Inaugural Hero of Hospitality
Submissions Must be Received by 5 p.m. April 12

In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week (May 19–25), Explore Asheville and the BCTDA will be accepting nominations for the inaugural Explore Asheville Heroes of Hospitality Awards. Nominated employees must have direct contact or provide direct support or entertainment to visitors and customers, and they must be an outstanding ambassador of Asheville and Buncombe County.  

The travel and hospitality community will be invited to celebrate the nominees and winners at a luncheon hosted in their honor at the Omni Grove Park Inn on May 20 12–2 p.m. 

Nominate a Hero by April 12


Find documents from the March 21, 2024 board meeting HERE >>

Friday, March 22, 2024 | 9:30–4:30pm
Highland Brewing | 12 Old Charlotte Highway | Asheville
Details to be posted HERE >>

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | 9–11am
Explore Asheville | 27 College Place | Asheville
Details to be posted HERE >>

Delivering Balanced & 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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