May 29, 2024

Today, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) Board of Directors reviewed the proposed FY25 budget of $34.3M presented by the Finance Committee and Explore Asheville staff. 

Recent data from Visit North Carolina shows nearly a 7% increase in visitor spending statewide, with expenditures exceeding $97 million per day and contributing $7.1 million daily to state and local tax revenues. We'll learn more about the economic impacts in our community later this summer.

Other takeaways from the May board meeting include:

We’re excited to welcome a summer season boost with Summer Camp premiering in movie theaters tomorrow. The new comedy featuring Diane Keeton, Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodard, and Eugene Levy was filmed in Western North Carolina last summer and showcases the Asheville area as a summer camp destination for all ages. Our marketing team has launched a targeted media campaign, which includes in-theater commercial spots, key market social media ads, a new camp landing page, and plenty of Asheville-base-camp themed content. This initiative aims to give our destination extra energy and ensure Asheville remains in the hearts and minds of potential visitors this important season for businesses and livelihoods.

Brenda Durden Chair
Vic Isley signature
April Lodging Occupancy Continues Normalization Trends
Total Roomnight Demand on Par with FY23

Lodging occupancy represents the percentage of rooms occupied during a specific period of time. April hotel occupancy was 69%, down two points from 2023 and five points from 2019. April vacation rental occupancy settled at 52%, down four points from 2023 and two points from 2019.

April hotel lodging demand grew 11% from 2019 to 2024, while vacation rental demand grew 50% over the same period. Lodging revenue has decreased by 2% through March of this fiscal year, but the total roomnight demand for this fiscal year through April just eclipses that of last fiscal year.

View the Latest Destination Dashboard
Finance Committee and Staff Propose FY25 Budget
BCTDA Forecasts Flat Revenue Growth in the Upcoming Fiscal Year

The BCTDA Finance Committee and Explore Asheville staff worked together to develop a $34.3M budget proposal based on the net revenue forecast approved by the BCTDA in March. The forecast stems from revenue projections and a gross lodging forecast of $36.1M, based on data provided by Tourism Economics.

The proposed budget also considers legislation governing the administrative support contract between the BCTDA and Buncombe County, which represents a 5% administrative fee (anticipated to be $1.8M in FY25). Additionally, staff and the Finance Committee recommend allocating $4.3M from the fund balance to the FY25 operating budget to help backfill the reduction in sales and marketing investments due to the 2022 change in legislation. 

Impacts of Legislative Changes Taking Shape

Two-thirds of lodging tax revenue shall be used only to further the development of travel, tourism, meetings, and events in the county through marketing, advertising, sales, and promotion. This portion constitutes Explore Asheville's operating budget, which is proposed at $27.3M. Current legislation now directs more funds toward community capital investments and fewer to marketing and promotion.

One-Third of Budget Evenly Split Between TPDF and LIFT

More than $15 million will be available for destination product investment through the FY25 Tourism Project Development Fund (TPDF) and Legacy Investment from Tourism (LIFT) Fund cycles, compared to $13.8 million allocated for destination media investment. Over the past three years, the BCTDA has dedicated more lodging tax revenue to community capital projects than to paid media.

The BCTDA will vote to approve the FY25 budget in compliance with state legislation at the June 26 board meeting. Public comments are welcomed at the meeting, whether in person or virtually via the Zoom webinar platform.

Review the FY25 Budget Ordinance
Woodfin Greenway & Blueway Update
Third Contract Amendment Request for TPDF Project

In 2017, Buncombe County and the Town of Woodfin were approved grant funding through the TPDF Major Works Pathway for the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway project, which includes building five miles of new greenway trails, constructing Silverline Park, updating and expanding Riverside Park, and creating an in-stream whitewater wave feature.

In 2020 and 2022, two amendments were made to extend the completion date, restructure disbursements, and increase the funding amount and scope. These changes included expansion and improvements to Riverside Park and increasing the height of the whitewater wave.

The project is on track to be completed by the end of 2025. The Town of Woodfin is currently finalizing the construction contract for Phase II and III of the project, which include the whitewater wave and the Riverside Park components.

Today, the BCTDA Board of Directors approved the latest request to amend the contract, which included adding the Town of Woodfin to the disbursement process, adjusting the disbursement allocation between project phases, and increasing the number of disbursements for Phases II and III to a total of seven.

Learn More About the TPDF Project
Meet the Inaugural Explore Asheville Heroes of Hospitality
Honor Recognizes Outstanding Ambassadors of Buncombe County

During National Travel and Tourism Week (May 19–25), the inaugural Explore Asheville Heroes of Hospitality awards luncheon celebrated more than 30 individuals nominated for their exemplary service and dedication as Asheville and Buncombe County ambassadors.

The six recipients of the inaugural Heroes of Hospitality Awards are:

Each winner received a $500 gift card and a handcrafted award made locally by Asheville artist Asher Holman at Small Batch Glass, recognizing their invaluable contributions to the hospitality industry and the community.

It is our pleasure to recognize these heroes and our partners for their role in making our community a welcoming and authentic destination for both visitors and residents! 

Meet the Heroes of Hospitality


Find documents from the May 29 board meeting HERE >>

Wednesday, June 26 | 9–11 a.m.
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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