ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 24, 2019) – The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) announced the formation of the Community Leadership Council at its meeting today. The group was formed to help guide the Tourism Management and Investment Plan to Develop Community Assets (TMIP) as part of an array of opportunities for public input, including an online survey for county residents, public forums to inform the process and a new website at

The Community Leadership Council (CLC) is a volunteer committee that will support the work of creating the TMIP. The group will review progress during several phases, share feedback and offer perspectives from the broader community.

“The CLC will guide this process and serve as a sounding board with remarkable depth of local perspective and expertise,” said Explore Asheville President and CEO Stephanie Brown. “These people represent diverse voices across the Asheville area. Their views are collective from the arts and independent business, to housing and neighborhoods, to education and cultural heritage, and a host of other vital public interests.”

The CLC will work with the TMIP Steering Committee in a collaborative process that will develop a new framework to guide long-range investment of BCTDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF). Since its inception in 2001, the TPDF has granted $44 million to 39 projects, including sports fields, theaters, parks and greenways.

CLC meetings are open to the public and additional invited guests will include the staff and leadership of public entities who will be collaborators for project development. A minimum of four meetings are planned between April 2019 and April 2020.

“This is a transition from an application-based process to a community investment strategy,” said Jim Muth, BCTDA chair. “At the end of the day, the goal is to prioritize community needs within the goals of the Fund. We’re committed to a process of engagement that provides an outcome that makes Asheville a better place to work, live and visit.”

Invitees represent a diversity of stakeholder interests and community needs including local business associations, chairs of six Asheville city commissions, elected leaders from five local municipalities, chancellors of local universities, and people representing arts, neighborhoods, transportation, housing, preservation and tourism-related business groups, among others (see full list).

Ongoing updates, project schedules, engagement opportunities and a list of invited CLC participants can be found at

About the TMIP

The Tourism Management and Investment Plan to Develop Community Assets (TMIP) will serve as a guide and process for future investment decisions and development planning in adherence with the enabling legislation that created the TPDF. This initiative builds upon the rigorous application-based process that has been established by the BCTDA to evaluate opportunities for TPDF investment.

Cornerstones of the planning process include community input and collaboration with public entities to find alignment between the legislative mandate of the fund, the priorities of the residential community and the opportunities to manage tourism impacts to sustain and enhance quality of place.

The effort is being funded entirely by occupancy tax revenue, through the TPDF, paid for by overnight visitors to Buncombe County.

About the TPDF

In 2001, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified a bill that dedicated an additional one percent to the three percent Buncombe County occupancy tax and created a Tourism Product Development Fund. This addition generates a dedicated source of funding that helps build community assets while also generating incremental overnight stays in paid lodging. The total occupancy tax was raised to six percent in 2015 with one quarter of the funds dedicated to tourism product development. Of the $44 million in grants that have been awarded since the TPDF’s inception, $22 million has gone directly to City of Asheville owned assets for projects such as the renovation of the U.S. Cellular Center, enhancements at the Western North Carolina Nature Center and improvements to the River Arts District.


Established by legislation in 1983, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) is the public entity charged with promoting Buncombe County as a tourism destination and administering its Tourism Product Development Fund. Explore Asheville works under the oversight of BCTDA to execute an extensive strategic marketing and sales program that inspires visitation and group meetings/travel while showcasing and offering free marketing services to 1,200 local business that depend on the patronage of out-of-town visitors.

The 3.9 million overnight guests that the Asheville area welcomes each year provide a customer base that assists in the sustainability of businesses in the community and contributes to local and state tax revenues, as well as the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) administered by Explore Asheville. 

To see who is counting on tourism in Buncombe County, visit