Tourism promotion has been a successful strategy for building the local Asheville area economy. The establishment of the occupancy tax by in 1983 created a source of marketing funds that has helped create and sustain independent businesses by expanding the Asheville customer base and providing free marketing to connect visitors to local shops, restaurants, cultural experiences, events, attractions and accommodations.
Tourism development strategies have maximized the positive impact of the occupancy tax model on the local community, the visitor experience, and 1,200+ Buncombe County businesses that depend upon visitors. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority has invested occupancy tax revenues to attracted overnight visitors through destination promotion and product development.
Visitor spending in Buncombe County accounts for $49 million of property tax revenue annually. That represents 18% of all property taxes collected by to Buncombe County and its municipalities. Read more…
Visitor spending in Buncombe County accounts for $49 million of property tax revenue annually. That represents 18% of all property taxes collected by to Buncombe County and its municipalities. 126 lodging properties (mostly hotels and motels) paid a total of $6.1 million in property taxes in 2015, and the valuation of the hotel business category in the city of Asheville (46 properties) is up 70% in the 2017 county tax reassessment. With many new hotels under construction, or recently opened, there will be a minimum of approximately $3 million in new combined city and county property tax revenue in the coming years.
Sales Taxes—Visitor spending generates $97 million in sales taxes (both state and local), which represents 43% of all sales tax collected in the county. Lodging properties alone remitted $21.8 million in sales tax in fiscal year 2016, or about one out of every ten sales tax dollars created in the county. Thanks in part to the visitor economy, Buncombe County’s sales tax generated per resident is larger than that of Mecklenburg County, the state’s largest county, and the total sales tax collected is nearly equal to that of the much more populous Forsyth County.
Combined Tax Impact—Including taxes and fees which go to both local and state governments, Tourism Economics estimated that Buncombe County visitors accounted for $203 million in state and local taxes (excluding occupancy taxes), or $1,800 per Buncombe County household.
Support for Local and Small Businesses
The local visitor economy includes far more than hotels and other lodging properties (many of which are actually owned by longtime local families). Read more…
The local visitor economy includes far more than hotels and other lodging properties (many of which are actually owned by longtime local families). Only 20 percent of tourism revenue is spent on lodging. The majority of visitor spending is captured by food and beverage, retail and recreation.
Jobs and Economic Recovery Impact
There are over 26,000 direct and indirect jobs in Buncombe County which are supported by visitor spending, or one out of every seven jobs in the county. Read more…
There are over 26,000 direct and indirect jobs in Buncombe County which are supported by visitor spending, or one out of every seven jobs in the county. The county’s unemployment rate continues to be the lowest in the state, and due to the expanded demand for labor and the thriving visitor economy, average wages paid by hotels and motels in the county were the second highest in the state and up by 11.8% since 2010 (double the rate of wage growth for manufacturing jobs in Buncombe County). Wages for lodging employees in the county were 11.8% higher than the statewide average in 2015, and hospitality is one of only two job sectors in Buncombe County where wages exceed the statewide averages. As the visitor economy has grown, so too have the number of business establishments in many other sectors of the economy that benefit from tourism.
Tourism Partner Support
Explore Asheville CVB works with and provides free sales and marketing support for over 1,200 local tourism partners, and 90% of those are entities other than hotels. Read more…
Explore Asheville CVB works with and provides free sales and marketing support for over 1,200 local tourism partners, and 90% of those are entities other than hotels. Almost all of them are small, independent, locally-owned businesses.
Quality of Life Enhanced through Tourism Product Development
Many of the quality of life benefits to local residents provided by Buncombe County’s visitor economy have already been noted, but the BCTDA decided in 2001 to make a direct investment in that community quality of life through the creation of the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF). The TPDF is supported through a 1.5% occupancy tax and provides funding for bricks-and-mortar capital projects. Projects supported through this unique mechanism must generate new overnight visitation to the county—but local hoteliers are far from the only ones who benefit.
Look Who’s Counting on Tourism
Tourism Supports Jobs
Tourism Builds Community