Tourism Management & Investment Plan to Develop Community Assets (TMIP)
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) approved funding for a yearlong community engagement process called the Buncombe County Tourism Management & Investment Plan to Develop Community Assets, or TMIP, to better manage tourism and plan investments for the next decade, while maintaining the character and integrity of the region.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is TMIP?
The Buncombe County Tourism Management & Investment Plan to Develop Community Assets, or TMIP, is a collaborative community initiative that brings together public entities, tourism officials and the community. It is designed to provide thoughtful, data-based recommendations to guide future investment through the BCTDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF). The effort is being funded entirely by occupancy tax revenue, through the TPDF, paid for by overnight visitors to Buncombe County.
Cornerstones of the planning process include significant community input and collaboration with public entities to find alignment between the TPDF’s legislatively defined purpose, the priorities of residents and opportunities to manage tourism in a manner that sustains and enhances quality of life in Buncombe County.
It is anticipated that the Plan will be a long-term strategic guide for the community and the tourism sector. The initiative began in 2019 and will conclude in 2020.
What are the objectives of the Plan?
This effort is intended to build upon 18 years of rigorous application-based process have led to successful TPDF investment in community assets with a goal of becoming more proactive and strategic in how the TPDF is used in future years.
Specifically, the objectives of the Plan are to:
- Work collaboratively with the community to develop a long-term strategic investment plan for public projects through the TPDF.
- Coalesce municipal and other partners around the strategic plan that outlines a long-range vision for implementing capital projects.
- Preserve and protect community character and the destination experience.
- Enhance Buncombe County through new community projects (within the scope of the TPDF fund) that contribute to quality of place for residents, workers and and visitors.
- Continue efforts already in place to attract overnight visitors through the development and enhancement of destination assets.
- Explore opportunities for financing and developing longer-term investments of significant impact.
- Support high quality design to enhance and preserve with the community in mind.
- Sustain the economic vitality of tourism in Buncombe County that is critical to the growth and financial health of local business and 27,000 jobs in the community.
What are the opportunities for Buncombe County residents to contribute to the process?
A public forum will take place in 2019. Additionally, an online survey will be distributed and made available to county residents in the early phases of the project to help inform the process.
A Community Leadership Council will also be established to represent a wide range of organizations and areas of expertise.
What geographic area will this project study?
While Asheville is the center of much of the county’s tourism activity, the BCTDA is legislatively charged with promoting the entire county as a destination and supporting the development of new drivers of overnight visitation throughout.
Throughout its history, TPDF funds have been allocated to capital projects located in several parts of Buncombe County, and this study will review potential capital projects across the county. Funding decisions will be based upon the criteria to produce the overall most beneficial results.
Will any local resident taxpayer dollars be used for this study?
No. This study is being funded entirely by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA), using occupancy tax revenue generated by all overnight lodging guests in Buncombe County. The allocated funding comes from the BCTDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund budget.
Who will supervise the project?
This project will be overseen by a steering committee consisting of past TPDF committee and BCTDA board members. This group of community residents will be selected based upon their expertise in the tourism sector and their experience with TPDF policies and processes.
PGAV, a consulting firm selected by the BCTDA, will lead the project and provide outside technical expertise.
What is PGAV?
PGAV is a firm whose knowledge of public engagement, urban planning, and development finance helps solve problems for cities across the country. PGAV’s tourism and destination expertise will be a significant asset for this project. The firm has worked on projects throughout the U.S. as well as in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
PGAV’s experience includes many types of projects, such as cities, neighborhoods, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and museums. PGAV has a diverse workforce of 125 creatives and professionals. More about PGAV can be found at its website: http://www.pgav.com/.
What role will the Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) have in the project?
Explore Asheville carries out the work plan of the BCTDA to provide destination sales and marketing as well as certain management services. Explore Asheville will help manage the project on behalf of the BCTDA and be the primary point of contact for PGAV.
What other organizations will be involved in the project?
The steering committee, community leadership council, PGAV, and Explore Asheville will work closely with staff at the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and other public entities in the county. While the BCTDA is the lead entity on the project, the process is intended to be highly collaborative with these organizations and members of the community.
What happens at the conclusion of the project?
PGAV will present the findings of the study to help community leaders understand potential projects and develop phasing and prioritization.
A final plan will be sent to the TPDF committee for its review and approval before being sent to the BCTDA for final approval.
Will the criteria for the evaluation of projects funded by the TPDF change as a result of this study?
The criteria, previously approved by the BCTDA and aligned with the legislation that created the TPDF, will continue to guide investment decisions.
- Ratio of room nights generated to funding requested
- Generator of new or incremental room nights
- Association with an identified need period
- Size of market to be served
- Scope of impact upon lodging market
- Ability to serve as a contributing asset
- Strength of the sales and marketing plan
- Timeliness of the project
- Uniqueness and innovation of the project
- Financial stability of the requesting organization
- Strength of business planning
- 1-to-1 funding match exceeded
- Strength of brand alignment
Will the project affect the other uses of occupancy tax revenue?
No. By law, expenditures on tourism-related capital projects are limited to the 1.5 percent occupancy tax used to fund the TPDF. The other 4.5 percent must be invested in sales and marketing to promote Buncombe County as an overnight destination and support the thousands of small businesses dependent upon tourism.
As a reminder, TMIP is a yearlong community engagement process to prioritize future investments of the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF), a program that for 18 years has granted a portion of occupancy tax revenue to projects that benefit the local community. Since the establishment of TPDF, 39 community projects have been awarded a total of $44 million, to include parks, greenways, sports facilities, museums, theaters, historic sites and more. These projects were selected via a rigorous application-based process.
The goal of TMIP is to become more proactive and strategic in how the TPDF revenue is invested in future years, within state legislative mandates, in a way that will allow Buncombe County to manage the challenges and maximize the benefits of tourism.
Update on the TMIP Process
TMIP is bringing together public entities, tourism officials and the community along with data resources to develop a framework to guide the long-term investment of the TPDF. There are four phases in this collaborative community engagement process.
Phase 1 – Assessment
The Phase 1 Assessment was a robust look at the Buncombe County community. After a careful review of best practices from successful tourism management plans, an analysis of Buncombe County’s past and current planning efforts, data collection, and extensive community engagement, the TMIP project team developed a deeper understanding of the current needs and opportunities facing Asheville and Buncombe County.
Community engagement included: three Public Input Workshops on August 15 – 16, 2019, attended by more than 130 people; a Resident Sentiment Survey conducted online August 1 – 23, 2019, with more than 2,000 responses; a Visitor Sentiment Survey, which received more than 1,300 responses, and the presentation of a Phase 1 Assessment report with data analysis, feedback from the public meetings and surveys, and best practices, which was presented to the community at a public forum on October 23, 2019.
Download the reports and presentation:
Phase 2 – Discovery
Phase 2, Discovery, was geared toward understanding the range and scope of capital improvement projects in Buncombe County. Using the data gathering of Phase 1 as the baseline for needs and opportunities, the project team met with public entities and community stakeholders to better understand the projects in the pipeline. The phase resulted in a comprehensive list of projects with costs, timelines, and relevant stakeholders.
Phase 3 – Collaboration
Phase 3 focused on collaboration among the public entities and figuring out how projects discovered in Phase 2 might fit with each other, in a strategic timeline, or otherwise be improved to fit the Tourism Product Development Fund guidelines or better serve community needs. The project team utilized urban planning and design strategies to further project development and design.
Phase 4 – Prioritization
Phase 4 prioritized opportunities and needs for the next several years of Buncombe County’s tourism management and investment. Through meetings with stakeholders, intense financial evaluation, and strategic thinking, the project team prioritized projects to define a path forward. The key to a successful implementation of this plan will be a willingness of parties to work together to determine the best way forward.