May 12, 2017 – Visitor spending increased nearly seven percent in Buncombe County during 2016, according to the most recent economic impact report from Oxford Economics’ tourism division. The spending increase correlates to a rise in visitor volume during 2016. An estimated 10.9 million trips, including 3.8 million overnight visits, occurred in Buncombe County.

Buncombe County visitors spent $1.9 billion in 2016, generating an additional $1 billion in indirect and induced spending for a total economic impact of nearly $3 billion in the community.  Nearly 30 percent of the total economic impact occurred in sectors outside those normally associated with hospitality.

Those expenditures resulted in tourism-driven state and local tax proceeds of $202.5 million last year. The total local tax revenues fueled by tourism, which include both sales and property taxes, amounted to $103.5 million. “Tourism-driven spending and the subsequent tax impacts offset the average household tax burden by $1,800 per household,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics.

The pattern continued with job growth in the sector.  The report states that tourism employment expanded faster than overall job growth in Buncombe County and the nation. The rise contributed to the county’s low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent.

“Tourism is a lifeblood of revenue for this community,” Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive (ACVB) Director Stephanie Brown noted, addressing the audience of attendees at a tourism summit on Friday. “Visitors spend almost $2 billion a year at businesses just like yours – hundreds of family owned local businesses serving customers every day, providing income for employees that totals $810 million of personal income for people living in Buncombe County.”

Citing additional insight from a recently commissioned advertising effectiveness study on Asheville’s destination marketing efforts, Brown pointed out that every dollar invested in advertising the Asheville area resulted in $43 of spending at local businesses.

The advertising helps expose consumers to the possibilities that Asheville has to offer and complements overall economic development goals in a much broader way than simply generating additional visitation, according to the report. People who see Asheville’s destination advertising are more positive about Asheville as a place to live, work or go to school.

Exposure to the advertising alone resulted in a 67 percent boost in ratings for Asheville as a “good place to start a business.” The figure jumps to 177 percent if people visited the Asheville area after seeing the advertising. Similar lifts were seen in perception ratings about Asheville as a great place to start a career or go to college.

The economic figures and advertising insights were released at the ACVB National Tourism Week Summit. Established by a congressional resolution in 1983, National Tourism Week spotlights the economic, community and cultural benefits of tourism at events across the county. In addition to the economic impact presentation, the ACVB unveiled a new video that features the faces of tourism in the community. The event also includes educational sessions for partners and an opportunity to talk with local elected officials.