Area Economics and Relocation



Together, Asheville and Buncombe County’s tourism community navigated a dramatic recovery coming through some of the most challenging and unprecedented times in recent history.

» Visitors spent $2.6 billion in 2021, supporting a wide variety of locally owned businesses, from beloved restaurants and breweries to art galleries, shops, and tour providers. With the popularity of outdoor and drive destinations, Buncombe County surpassed Wake County in visitor spending, ranking only second in the state behind Mecklenburg County where visitors spent $4.1 billion.

» That spending supported $915 million in workforce income for area residents and 27,000 total jobs, making up 14% of all jobs in Buncombe County. In fact, tourism is one of only two sectors in our region that pays higher wages than the North Carolina average.

While we at Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority serve as the official destination marketing and management organization for the region, we also have a responsibility to maintain our quality of life. To better understand all of our needs and priorities, we embarked on hundreds of listening sessions with community members and analyzed the strategic priorities of many community organizations. From those engagements, we crafted four strategic imperatives that align our efforts with broader community goals:

» Delivering balanced recovery and sustainable growth;
» Encouraging safe and responsible travel;
» Engaging and inviting more diverse audiences, and
» Promoting and supporting Asheville’s creative spirit.

With a successful visitor economy, we must also recognize some of the challenges we face together. These strategic priorities not only help guide what we do, but how we go about doing this important work for a community in which we all live, work, play, pray, and learn. This report marks the results of that recovery and the first full year on this collective journey. We hope you will spend some time reviewing our progress. Please share ideas of how we can create more opportunities for more to win through our efforts.

Here is a great resource to learn about the Economic Growth in Asheville: 


The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is charting a new course for tourism aligned with broader community priorities. This includes the adoption of strategic imperatives that are informing and guiding the direction of Explore Asheville’s program of work and community investments going forward.

The Monthly Highlights report, newly created in January 2022, is released at  meetings of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, providing a brief update of our progress toward these strategic imperatives. 


Economic Impact Information

Visitors significantly contribute to the Asheville economy. In 2021, visitors spent $2.6 billion, according to preliminary research received in July 2022 from Longwoods International and Tourism Economics.

The benefits of visitor spending are distributed across many business categories. Although the occupancy tax shoulders 100% of the destination marketing investment for our community, lodging partners in 2021 garnered just under a third of the visitor spending at 31%. Restaurants and breweries, local shops, recreation, entertainment and tour providers and transportation companies reaped 69% – the lion’s share of visitor spending rewards

Click here for the Asheville Annual Report 

 This is a great reseource for all of Asheville Strategic Initiatives as we continue our fast paced growth 

 Here is an example of a highlight report that is offered on the site. 

What is the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority? 

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is the public authority created in 1983 by an act of the North Carolina Legislature to oversee the collection and investment of occupancy taxes paid by travelers who stay overnight in commercial lodging establishments, such as hotels and motels, bed and breakfast operations, and vacation rentals such as Airbnb and VRBOs. The members of the Buncombe County TDA Board have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the tax dollars are spent in accordance with the specific legislation governing their use.