ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 31, 2019) — The newest media advertising plan presented today to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority by Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau will do more than bring visitors to Asheville and the communities across Buncombe County. At a cost of $11.5 million, it’s expected to result in $494.5 million total spending by visitors – an infusion of cash that could help sustain a mom ‘n’ pop shop or tourism entrepreneur, outdoor outfitter, artist, chef, musician, craft brewer, or even a nonprofit attraction such as Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center or Asheville Museum of Science.

“Tourism advertising fuels a powerful economic engine for Buncombe County,” said Denise Miller, executive vice president at the marketing research firm Strategic Marketing & Research Insights (SMARI). “Our study measuring the effectiveness of Explore Asheville’s advertising revealed that every dollar invested generates $43 in spending at local businesses and $3 of sales tax – all within six months of the advertising campaign.”

Promoting and generating awareness of the area among visitors supports economic development efforts to recruit new businesses and jobs in other industry clusters, such as advanced manufacturing, science and technology, entrepreneurship, healthcare and outdoor gear manufacturing. SMARI’s research demonstrated that when consumers recall advertising messages and then visit, their image of the area as a place to do business nearly doubles.

“Asheville is the ultimate base camp for outdoor adventures. The exposure our local outdoor industry gets from efforts like the CVB’s advertising is vital in connecting visitors with our world-class recreation experiences and with all the exceptional outdoor gear made here,” said Noah Wilson, manager of Growing Outdoors, an initiative whose goal is to expand the region’s outdoor industry and jobs.

The media advertising plan is designed to attract highly targeted audiences in new markets that include New York City and Chicago, as well as other key cities across North and South Carolina, the Southeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. In addition to traditional TV and radio spots and a mix of streaming video, digital, and paid social media on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, the plan will also include ads on TripAdvisor, Hulu, Spotify and Pandora, to name a few.

“Attracting visitors creates jobs,” said Explore Asheville President and CEO Stephanie Brown. “Already one of every seven citizens in Buncombe County, or more than 27,000 people, holds a job supported by tourism. Spending by tourists supports 19 percent of property tax and generates 31 percent of sales tax – revenue that is available for core services and social investments.”

In addition, 25 percent of the lodging tax is dedicated to the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF), which has awarded $44 million to 39 community projects, such as parks, theaters, museums, historic sites, sports fields and greenways.

“Community infrastructure projects that improve the quality of place for residents and visitors have been made possible through lodging tax revenue, including the Enka Sports Complex, Pack Square Park, the Western North Carolina Nature Center, the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway, renovation of the U.S. Cellular Center and improvements to the River Arts District,” Brown said.

Advertising spots and other creative elements will be unveiled by BCTDA’s agency of record, 360i, at the authority’s annual meeting on Sept. 5. The agency is also conducting a free daylong marketing workshop on Aug. 6 for Buncombe County businesses, nonprofits and tourism partners. Taking place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center banquet room, the workshop will cover easy-to-execute practices and principles to help organizations with budgets of all sizes grow their marketing footprint, including tips on buying Facebook ads, developing content for Instagram, website optimization to garner more search traffic and more.

The event is free and includes lunch. Due to limited space, registration is required. Sign up at


Established by legislation in 1983, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) is a public authority with a public purpose that enhances the economic vitality of Buncombe County. Charged with marketing Buncombe County as a tourism destination and administering its Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF), the BCTDA invests occupancy tax revenue to attract some 3.9 million overnight visitors to Buncombe County who spend $2 billion at local businesses annually, supporting 15 percent of employment in Buncombe and generating $119.1 million in state and local tax revenues, for a total economic impact of $3.1 billion. Under the oversight of the BCTDA, the Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) executes an extensive strategic marketing and sales program that inspires visitation and group meetings/travel while showcasing and offering free marketing services to 1,200 businesses that rely on visitors.

The Tourism Product Development Fund was originally created in 2001 by the North Carolina General Assembly. It is supported through a 1.5 percent occupancy tax and provides funding for bricks-and-mortar capital projects. Through the TDPF grant program, BCTDA has given 39 awards funded by lodging tax revenue, including community infrastructure projects. Currently, a collaborative process known as the Buncombe County Tourism Management & Investment Plan (TMIP) is underway to bring together public entities, tourism officials and the community, using extensive market research, to determine a set of strategic priorities and a plan for occupancy tax dedicated to capital projects. This yearlong community engagement process is designed to better manage tourism and plan investments for the next decade, while maintaining the character and integrity of the region.

About 360i

360i is an award-winning agency that helps brands capitalize on change. As a highly strategic creative and media partner with a deep understanding of how people discover brands and share stories, 360i doesn’t just react to changes in the marketplace – it predicts and defines them. By bringing together some of the smartest, most curious people with expertise in data, creativity, media, strategy, search, and social, 360i helps its clients achieve their objectives and drive their business forward. In 2019, the agency was selected for Ad Age’s A-List – its ninth consecutive year in the coveted issue. In 2018, it was named Adweek’s Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year, recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and ranked amongst the best Lead Agencies and Search Agencies by Forrester Research. In addition to Explore Asheville, 360i works with a variety of brands including HBO, MINI USA, DSW, and Mondelez. To learn more, visit