TOURISM: ‘IN THIS INDUSTRY, YOU DO WHAT IT TAKES’

BY
ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES
CAITLIN BYRD

 ON AVERAGE, ASHEVILLE TOURISTS WILL SPEND ABOUT $128 A DAY

Stopping for two days on their way from New York to Florida, Cindy and Gary Jackson didn’t look like an economic engine as they strolled through the Grove Arcade. But the Fort Lauderdale residents most definitely were.

“We’re staying at the Hotel Indigo, and tomorrow we’ll go to the Biltmore Estate, and we’re definitely going to eat out two nights,” Gary Jackson said. “Right now we’re doing some shopping, and we’ve been looking at all these brochures the rest of the tourists are carrying around.”

Their money will rattle around town days after they are gone, in the pockets of wait staff, hotel housekeepers and maybe some Grove Arcade retailers. If they’re like the average tourist, the Jacksons will spend about $128 each, $256 as a couple, each day, with 21 percent of that going to lodging and 26 percent on food and beverage, according to a 2014 visitor profile compiled for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Like it or not, tourism is a pillar of the Asheville economy, and it keeps growing, evident in the construction cranes dominating the downtown skyline and a half-dozen new hotels coming online in the coming months. Those will create an additional 1,700 hotel rooms for visitors.

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