Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority hosted Tourism Summit 2022: The Future of Travel, on Wednesday, May 18 from 12-5 p.m. at the Omni Grove Park Inn (in person for the first time since 2019!).

Tourism Summit 2022: A Quick Look


12:00 – 12:30 p.m.


12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

  • WELCOME: THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL – Vic Isley, President & CEO of Explore Asheville & BCTDA
  • MAYORAL COMMENTS – Esther Manheimer, Mayor of the City of Asheville

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.


4:00 – 5:00 p.m.


More About Foundations of Storytelling

Explore Asheville is on a journey to further define Asheville’s storytelling foundation for sustainable growth in the future. Part of that effort has been a listening tour conducted by Vic Isley, President & CEO of Explore Asheville and Stewart Colovin, Executive Vice President of MMGY Global Brand Strategy, to ensure local voices across our community and industry are represented, included and heard. After more than 300 individual listening sessions conducted by Vic and 130 by Stew – including many individuals who we hope will be present at the Tourism Summit – Stew will share a read-out of insights and themes in this engaging session that will chart the course for the future of storytelling in travel for our community.

More About Black Travelers Diversity Training Workshop

To accelerate our community’s efforts to extend a genuine invitation to Black audiences, Explore Asheville has engaged with Evita Robinson, the globally recognized founder of NOMADNESS Travel Tribe, an online social community primarily for travelers of color with more than 29,000 international members. In this workshop, facilitators from NOMADNESS and Tourism RESET will present findings from their survey of 5,300 travelers from various regions, ethnic, and racial backgrounds to reflect on their travel behavior and desires. They’ll also share insights from their in-depth interviews with some of the top influencers in the Black travel movement.

Meet Our Speakers

Stewart Colovin, EVP, MMGY Global Brand Strategy

Stewart Colovin leads all of the brand strategy efforts of MMGY Global, Explore Asheville’s marketing agency. He has created brands for destinations, hotels and resorts, attractions and sports franchises around the world, including Vancouver, Cleveland, Bermuda, Los Cabos, Homewood Suites by Hilton, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Stew believes that for a brand to be accepted and embraced, it must be inclusive of all voices and perspectives. He has worked with countries, states, regions, counties, cities and towns of all sizes to help build bridges between residents and visitors, as well as the tourism and business communities. The process he has created builds consensus in communities and organizations and connects data to emotion in order to produce brands that inspire and drive unprecedented results.

He is a featured speaker in the industry, both in the U.S. and internationally, on the power of travel and branding. Prior to joining MMGY Global, he served as international creative director at Dentsu, Inc. in Tokyo. He has received awards at the most prestigious advertising competitions, including Best of Show at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s Adrian Awards, twice.

Evita Robinson, Founder, NOMADNESS Travel Tribe


In September 2011, Evita Robinson created the NOMADNESS Travel Tribe, an online social community primarily for travelers of color. NOMADNESS was the first of its kind targeting Black and brown millennials in the newly coined “black travel movement.” NOMADNESS is an homage to the Green Book – a community outlining safe spaces for conversation and travel for millennials of color – with currently more than 29,000 international members.


From the success of the online group, Evita has garnered partnerships with top brands and destinations around the world. This includes Issa Rae, with whom she serves as Co-Executive Producer of The NOMADNESS Project web series with on YouTube. In 2018, NOMADNESS Travel Tribe hosted their first festival for black and brown travelers and allies. NOMADNESS Fest is an immersive experience that celebrates and creates a safe space for discussions centered around traveling the world as a person of color.

Evita’s accolades include National Geographic’s 21 Most Visionary Women Throughout Travel History; AFAR Travel Vanguard Award recipient; The Root 100; and being noted as one of Entrepreneur magazine’s 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs of 2018. She was also invited to the White House under the Obama Administration for their meeting of creative change-makers. She now serves as a media host amplifying BIPOC communities around the world, keynote speaker, and DEI consultant for destinations and brands.

Stefanie Benjamin, PhD, and Alana Dillette, PhD, Co-Directors of Tourism RESET

Tourism RESET is a research collaborative focusing on issues around race, ethnicity and social equity in tourism (RESET). Dr. Benjamin is an Assistant Professor in the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management program at the University of Tennessee. Dillette is an Assistant Professor in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at San Diego State University. Both are trained qualitative and quantitative researchers and are leading the data analysis for this project.