The Tourism Product Development Fund is made possible solely through lodging taxes paid by overnight visitors staying in hotels, vacation rentals, and bed-and-breakfasts in Buncombe County


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 3, 2023) — The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) invites Buncombe County-based non-profit and government organizations to submit applications to this year’s Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) cycle opening on April 12. TPDF was created to provide financial assistance through grants, loan guarantees, or pledges of debt service to major tourism capital projects that will increase patronage of lodging properties and further economic development in Buncombe County.

Since the fund’s inception, the BCTDA has invested nearly $60 million of lodging tax revenue to support 46 community projects. Funded projects have included greenways, parks, public art, sports and recreation facilities, cultural heritage institutions, and other family attractions. A list of all TPDF investments can be found here.

The TPDF is derived from one-third of the lodging tax paid by visitors who stay overnight in Buncombe County in commercial lodging facilities including hotels, vacation rentals, and bed-and-breakfast inns. This is the first funding cycle in which changes from House Bill 1057 will be in effect. These legislative changes increase the amount of funding that can be used for community capital projects from one-quarter to one-third. Additional changes split funding for community capital projects into two separate funding structures, TPDF and the forthcoming Legacy Investment From Tourism (LIFT) Fund. The BCTDA estimates $8.2 million will be available for TPDF investments this year.

“The Tourism Product Development Fund is one of the important ways the tourism development authority invests in enhancing the quality of life for residents and guest experience for visitors,” said Vic Isley, President & CEO for Explore Asheville and the BCTDA. “We look forward to hearing great ideas from our municipal and non-profit partners through this cycle.”

Projects eligible for TPDF must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Applicant must be a federally recognized non-profit organization or government entity.
  • If the applicant is a non-profit organization, the organization must have been in operation for at least 2 years at the time of application.
  • Project must be principally located in Buncombe County.
  • Project must be a major tourism capital project that furthers economic development in Buncombe County.
  • Project must demonstrate ability to increase patronage of lodging facilities in Buncombe County by attracting tourists, business travelers, or both.
  • Project must not solely benefit a single lodging owner, lodging property, or be situated on a lodging property.
  • At time of application, applicant must have legal control of the property through recorded deed or long-term lease agreement. If property is owned by a municipal partner, such as the City or County, a non-profit organization may provide a letter of support or other agreement with the municipal partner.
  • Applicant must show how a minimum of a 1-to-1 funding match to the requested grant amount will be achieved (excluding in-kind goods and services.)
  • Applicant must demonstrate how the proposed project aligns with the Authority’s strategic imperatives that ladder up to broader community goals:
    • Delivering balanced and sustainable growth
    • Encouraging safe and responsible travel
    • Engaging and inviting more diverse audiences
    • Promoting and supporting Asheville’s creative spirit.

More information on the TPDF grant process, evaluation criteria, and FAQs can be found in the Program Guidelines. The BCTDA will also host an information session on April 18, 2023, 3:30–5 pm at Explore Asheville’s offices located at 27 College Place. Registration is available here.

TPDF 2023 Cycle Schedule

  • April 3: Program Guidelines and Timeline Released
  • April 12: TPDF Phase 1 Application Opens
  • April 18: TPDF Information Session
  • May 17: TPDF Phase I Application Closes
  • June 15: Phase I Applicants Notified and Invited to Phase II
  • August 31: Phase II Application Closes
  • Week of September 11: Project Presentations
  • Week of September 18: Project Site Visits
  • October 25: Funding Recommendations Presented to BCTDA Board

As part of the legislative changes, the LIFT Fund will open its first grant cycle in October, with awards expected to be announced in April 2024. LIFT aims to provide financial investment for tourism-related capital projects that increase patronage of lodging facilities, meeting facilities, or convention facilities in Buncombe County, and benefits the community at large in Buncombe County. A complete schedule for the LIFT application cycle will be available later this year.

For help determining whether a project is eligible for TPDF or LIFT, please see the legislation and supporting decision tree.