In 2014, Buncombe County attracted 9.8 million visitors, including 3.3 million overnight guests. Visitors spent $1.7 billion, generating $2.6 billion in economic impact and supporting 24,856 jobs, as reported by esteemed research firm, Tourism Economics. Tourism is the third largest employer in the area, and a significant driver of the Asheville economy.
For a list of community capital projects that have been funded by the Tourism Product Development Fund, go to the Tourism Product Development section.
Hear stories from the community on the impact of a thriving tourism industry.
- Jamie Ager discusses how a healthy tourism industry helps keep the Western North Carolina farming industry and culinary reputation of the area thriving.
- Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools, discusses the positive impact of visitor spending and sales tax on the school system.
- Pete Cram talks about how visitors lead to a viable construction industry through new businesses, renovations and expansions.
- Lloyd Kirk, owner of the recently closed Forest Manor Inn, talks about buying the inn in 1972 and the impact of the occupancy tax on the Asheville community.
- Jamie Ager is cultivating a relationship with visitors. Western North Carolina farms like Hickory Nut Gap Farm supply meats and produce to restaurants, tailgate markets and grocery stores that keep residents and visitors hungry for more. Visitor spending on food and drink in our community helps grow the local food system which in turn creates jobs and tax revenues, and helps keep the legacy of family farms alive and well.
- These Weaverville Elementary students are educated about the impact tourism has on their school. With an increase in hotels in the county, property tax valuations of lodging establishments alone have more than doubled in 15 years. Property taxes on those and other tourism attractions in the area along with the sales taxes paid by visitors add up and help fund Buncombe County Schools.
- Carol Rovello knows tourism gives rise to careers. As president of Strategic Workplace Solutions, her company helps business owners develop strategic and practical solutions for workforce and organizational development. She recognizes that visiting entrepreneurs will want to relocate or start their businesses here when there is expert resources and support. Here in Buncombe County, that means a trickle-down effect that helps reduce unemployment.
- Pete Cram can explain how tourism builds a community. As a site superintendent at Beverly-Grant, Inc, he sees the effect of tourism on other industries like his. Increased visitors can create the need for new services, additional development, even building and expansion projects, allowing businesses like his to remain firmly grounded.
- Illustrating the power of tourism is not hard for Alice Oglesby. Hers is one of 200 businesses growing in historic West Asheville. She draws on the tourism industry’s ability to bring new projects to her design and illustration company which then filters down to new business for printers, photographers, copy writers and sign shops.
- As the executive director of the Grove Arcade, Ruth Summers understands the impact of visitor spending on downtown shops, restaurants and attractions. Asheville’s historic gem is home to thirty-four small businesses. Dollars from visitor spending that helped revitalize downtown twenty years ago now keeps storefronts occupied and allow new businesses to open.