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

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) invites non-profit and government organizations to submit applications for the Legacy Investment From Tourism (LIFT) Fund cycle opening today, October 31. The LIFT Fund was created to provide financial investment for tourism-related capital projects that increase patronage of lodging facilities, meeting facilities, or convention facilities in Buncombe County, and benefit the community at large in Buncombe County.

The LIFT Fund 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. Advocacy efforts from local hotel leaders and Buncombe County Commissioners led to a change in legislation, effective July 1, 2022, that increased the allocation of lodging tax collections funding capital projects to two thirds of total occupancy tax collections, creating the LIFT Fund. The BCTDA estimates that $10.3 million will be available for the LIFT Fund investments this year.

Projects eligible for the LIFT Fund 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 tourism-related capital project.
  • Project must (1) demonstrate ability to increase patronage of lodging facilities, meeting facilities, and convention facilities in Buncombe County by attracting tourists, business travelers, or both and (2) benefit the community at large in Buncombe County.
  • Project must demonstrate ability to balance both resident and visitor needs.
  • 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 (excluding in-kind goods and services) will be achieved.

LIFT 2023 Cycle Schedule

  • October 31: Phase I Application Opens
  • November 7: LIFT Fund Information Session
  • December 1: LIFT Fund Phase I Application Closes
  • December 19: Phase I Applicants Notified and Invited to Phase II
  • February 28: Phase II Application Closes
  • Week of March 25: Project Presentations
  • Week of April 1: Project Site Visits
  • April 24: Funding Recommendations Presented to BCTDA Board

More information on the LIFT Fund grant process and evaluation criteria can be found in the LIFT Fund Guidelines. The BCTDA will also host an information session on November 7, 2023, 1:00–2:30 pm at Explore Asheville’s offices located at 27 College Place. Registration is available here.

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