Legislation signed into law in May 2020 allowed the Buncombe County TDA to appropriate $5 million from the Tourism Product Development Fund (revenue that had been collected but not awarded) to establish a one-time emergency grant program, the Buncombe Tourism Jobs Recovery Fund to help local small businesses safely and sustainably reopen, providing the support to protect jobs for local people.

This community initiative won a Destiny Award in the category of Community Building at U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO — Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations — in Los Angeles in August.

The Destiny Awards recognize U.S. Travel destination members for excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing and promotion at the local and regional level; and foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion programs and activities.

Judges’ comments included “The pandemic year brought significant hardships and the Buncombe County Tourism clearly highlighted the specific industries in great need…clearly explained the process, who benefitted, and the results were outstanding. The spirit was definitely felt.”