Explore Asheville is charting a new course for the tourism community aligned with broader community goals. These efforts are being organized around four strategic pillars.

In May, we “deconstruct” our annual Tourism Summit – a springtime tradition celebrating National Travel & Tourism Week – to host a series of four webinars, “Planning for the Future: DEEP Community Conversations.” Each webinar will feature community leaders and partners who will share their ideas and insights around Explore Asheville’s four strategic pillars:

All four webinars will take place from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. on the dates listed, so here’s a tip: Order lunch to-go from your favorite AIR restaurant before tuning in for an enlightening discussion on the future of tourism in Asheville and Buncombe County. (And here’s another idea: Place your order from a local, independent restaurant through Kickback AVL and have your lunch delivered to you!)

You can register for one or all four webinars with just one click. REGISTER NOW FOR THE ‘DEEP’ COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS WEBINAR SERIES  >>

This series of Zoom webinars will be recorded and links posted after each event here on AshevilleCVB.com.


DEEP Community Conversation #1:
‘Deliver Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth’ [Monday, May 10, 2021]

Photos of panelists at DEEP Community Conversations, part of Tourism Summit 2021

FEATURED PANELISTS (clockwise from top left):

REGISTER NOW  >>

Adam SacksSetting the Stage for DEEP Community Conversation #1: Thought Leader Adam Sacks, Tourism Economics

For Asheville and Buncombe County to fully achieve economic recovery from the pandemic, the travel sector has to be the focus. That was the bottom-line message from industry forecaster Adam Sacks, Founder and President of Tourism Economics, when he spoke at the recent Buncombe County TDA annual planning retreat. He provided data, insights and ideas to spark discussion around one of Explore Asheville’s four strategic pillars: Deliver Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth.

We invite you to spend a few minutes viewing Adam’s presentation, then get ready for DEEP Community Conversation #1 on May 10 on how Explore Asheville can balance the needs of the community with the economic necessity of encouraging sustainable, long-term growth of tourism, which will play an integral part in Asheville and Buncombe County’s economic recovery. This strategic pillar also means balancing visitor growth across all seasons and throughout the entire county and encompasses a balance between business travelers and leisure travelers. VIEW ADAM SACKS’ PRESENTATION >>


DEEP Community Conversation #2:
‘Encourage Safe & Responsible Travel’ [Wednesday, May 12, 2021]

Panelists for Community Conversation #2

FEATURED PANELISTS (clockwise from top left)

REGISTER NOW  >>

Setting the Stage for DEEP Community Conversation #2: Thought Leader Randy Durband, CEO of Global Sustainability Travel Council

Here’s a great way to get ready for DEEP Community Conversation #2 on May 12: View the insights and ideas of Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainability Travel Council, the United Nations-supported non-governmental organization that establishes and manages global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The GSTC criteria include guidelines for minimizing negative environmental, culture, and social impacts while maximizing travel and tourism as a force for good. HEAR RANDY DURBAND’S INSIGHTS >>


DEEP Community Conversation #3:
‘Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences’ [Monday, May 17, 2021]

FEATURED PANELISTS (from top left):

REGISTER NOW  >>

Setting the Stage for DEEP Community Conversation #3: Thought Leader Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprise

What are the ways our tourism community can Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences, including travelers who are Black, people of color, families, and LGBTQ? According to Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprise it’s important to make a commitment to extend a genuine invitation to diverse audiences and discussed ways to do that in his virtual chat with members of the Buncombe County TDA board at their annual planning retreat. We invite you to listen in on Butch’s engaging talk for inspiration before joining us for our community panel on ‘Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences’ on May 17. HEAR THE INSPIRATION OF BUTCH GRAVES >>  


DEEP Community Conversation #4:
‘Promote & Support Asheville’s Creative Spirit’ [Wednesday, May 19, 2021]

FEATURED PANELISTS (from left):

REGISTER NOW  >>

Setting the Stage for DEEP Community Conversation #4: Thought Leader Rodney Payne, Co-founder & CEO of Destination Think

Asheville’s creative spirit is undeniable. Local artists and makers deliver experiences that help define our community’s culture – and Explore Asheville will continue to support that creative spirit with both marketing and product development efforts. At the recent Buncombe County TDA planning retreat, Rodney Payne, Co-founder & CEO of Destination Think said it’s important to get communities involved in deciding what they want to be and can “own” based on an area’s history, culture, environment, ethnicities, and so on. Rodney’s remarks set the stage for our DEEP Community Conversation on May 19. HEAR RODNEY PAYNE’S IDEAS & INSIGHTS >>

Photo of Jessica Tomasin by Sandlin Gaither

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