Like many hotels in Asheville, the Grand Bohemian Hotel has experienced a downturn in tourism this year. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

A drop in Asheville tourism is hurting local businesses across the board, from shops and restaurants to hotels, bed & breakfasts, and even short-term rentals, as owners and managers face declining revenue and uncertainty about their finances.

“We’re definitely suffering right now,” said Brandi Howard, manager for the Mount Inspiration company of three gift and clothing shops featuring Asheville mementos. “As far as we’re concerned, tourist season hasn’t really started.” 

In one of her strategically located shops right on Biltmore Avenue downtown, the sales for a recent full day had not broken $100.

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s latest figures, reflecting April tourism, show a decline in total lodging sales of 11 percent. It also estimates that credit card spending by tourists fell by $300,000 between March through May this year, or $7.0 million compared to $7.3 million in 2022.

Tourism accounted for $2.6 billion in visitor spending in 2021, according to the figures from the TDA’s 2021-2022 annual report. That included $915 million in workforce income, 27,000 jobs and $238 million in state and local taxes. The 2022 figures will not be available until next year, said TDA spokeswoman Ashley Greenstein.

“Usually, it’s like someone flips a switch, and it’s game on. This year, it’s like someone forgot to flip the switch,” said Will Gay, the owner of the Diamond Brand Outdoors shop on Biltmore Avenue, regarding the start of July tourism. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

“Usually, it’s like someone flips a switch, and it’s game on,” said Will Gay, the owner of the Diamond Brand Outdoors shop on Biltmore Avenue, regarding the start of July, the second biggest month for tourism after October. “This year, it’s like someone forgot to flip the switch.” 

For his store specializing in outdoor clothing and gear, Gay estimates business is off between 10 and 20 percent.

“Tourism and hospitality have been a part of this vibrant community for generations. A healthy visitor economy helps support the wide array of creative experiences and businesses we enjoy as residents every day,” said Vic Isley, CEO & president of Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

“Nearly 70 percent of all visitor spending occurs in establishments outside of local lodging. So we are hearing that business is inconsistent from restaurants, shops, tour providers, arts and culture venues, and attractions – not just lodging partners,” she said.

Isley said that economic uncertainties and increased foreign travel “plus the real and perceived public safety issues” surrounding Asheville have resulted in year-over-year declines. “All of which negatively impact sales tax collections our local governments rely on to provide services to us as residents,” she said. 

“A noticeable downturn”

Many downtown restaurants are hurting. Chef-owner Mike McCarty at the Lobster Trap, whose restaurant clientele is about half tourists, said, “It’s definitely a noticeable downturn in tourism. We see it, just like other restaurants around town.”

He estimates his business at 35 Patton Avenue downtown is down about 12 percent.

“It’s slow everywhere, and we’re definitely feeling it,” said Shaun Hayes, the bartender at the Blackbird restaurant located on the ground floor below the Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue, where most of the clientele are tourists.

“Even when it’s busy, it’s not really that busy,” Hayes said. As a bartender dependent on tips, the 13-year Asheville resident worries he can’t pay his bills.

Some restaurants rely more on local patrons than tourists and aren’t feeling the pinch. Peter Pollay, the chef owner of Posana, located at 1 Biltmore Avenue, said his revenue is up compared to last year, and not just because he raised his prices. His guest count has increased 5-7 percent compared to 2022, Pollay said. 

Yet, Pollay said, “Every time I open my mouth, I’m knocking on wood.”

Business owners and managers said that visitors seem more cautious about spending, owing to continuing concern about a possible economic downturn and inflation, which has actually cooled significantly in recent months.

Downtown hotels are lowering rates and offering special deals to fill rooms, which means reduced revenues. “We’re making significantly less than we had forecasted,” said Michael Lusick, senior vice president of the FIRC Group, a real estate development and hospitality management company, and a member of the TDA board of directors.

Lusick said he’s offering lower rates at his two downtown hotels — the Haywood Park at 1 Battery Park Avenue and the Cambria at 15 Page Avenue — “because they’re not doing as well (as forecasted). But there’s a ripple effect.  We pull business that normally would have stayed outside downtown into downtown at the lower rate, and we make less money.” 

That ripple effect hits FIRC’s two hotels outside of downtown, the Country Inn and Suites at 22 Westgate Parkway and Springhill Suites by Marriott in Enka. 

His overall hotel revenues are down between 12 and 15 percent, and “I hope we’re at the bottom,” he said. But as he tracks the pace of bookings, he’s concerned that these could be flat going into the key leaf season.

Widespread economic pain

Bed & breakfasts, which are outside downtown, also are feeling the pain, with declines of 10-15 percent, said Randy Claybrook, who owns the Bent Creek Lodge B&B and leads the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association.

 “2022 was a high-water mark and we were slammed,” he said, but “the overall demand is just softer” this year.

Even short-term rentals were down by nearly 13 percent, according to TDA’s May figures. 

For some hoteliers there’s some compensatory income. The drop in revenues at FIRC’s two downtown restaurants, Isa’s Bistro at the Haywood Park and Hemingway’s Cuba at the Cambria, is less than 10 percent because “local business is still there, so we’re insulated somewhat from trends in tourism,” he said. 

In the Biltmore Village area, just south of downtown, three hotels owned by Biltmore Farms — the Doubletree by Hilton, Hampton Inn and Suites, and Marriott Residence Inn — are experiencing the same drops in occupancy, leaving hoteliers concerned about profitability, said Kyle Highberg, senior director of operations at Biltmore Farms. 

“We hoteliers are really feeling this pinch right now,” Highberg said.

He’s trying to stem the slide by chipping away at costs for such items as food, shampoos, and soap. By buying in bulk, he said he could get discounts. He also is working to bolster his hotels’ occupancy by offering special rates to segments of travelers that he previously would not have targeted, such as government travelers who have limited per diems. 

Revenues were mixed at the two Biltmore Farms hotels that are available for group meetings and events, which have declined in Asheville overall this year. Highberg said that business has changed. Clients used to book a year or two ahead, he said, now they are booking as little as a month in advance.

“Things are notably slower than last year or the year prior, but 2021 and 2022 were some of the busiest years that this community has ever seen,” said Matthew Lehman, general manager at the Grand Bohemian in Biltmore Village. // Watchdog photo by Starr Sariego

“It’s important to contextualize the slowdown,” said Matthew Lehman, general manager at the Grand Bohemian in Biltmore Village. “Things are notably slower than last year or the year prior, but 2021 and 2022 were some of the busiest years that this community has ever seen.”

“Yes, we are falling way behind recent performance,” he said. But “we still would be tremendously successful compared to any pre-Covid year.”

The surge of visitors in 2021-2022 occurred because Asheville, with its many outdoor attractions, was considered a safe destination to visit in the mid- to post-pandemic, he said, and it is what is called a “drive market,” where many visitors did not have to fly here.

“So that tsunami has receded now that people are more willing to get on airplanes and cruise ships,” Lehman said. “Luxury hotels in Europe are having the best year they’ve ever had.”

The small market of Asheville, he said, is “reverting back to what you would call the new normal. What everyone bandied about the last couple of years was never a new normal.”

“I think as an industry we got a little spoiled. We got a little fat and happy,” he said.

The drop in tourism here is a bit deeper than some comparable cities. In Wilmington, the occupancy tax revenue was down 3.9 percent in April compared to last year, the latest figures available, said Connie Nelson, the public relations director for Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitor Bureau.

Decline less steep in comparable markets

In Charleston, revenues per available room were down 0.5 percent in April and 1.6 percent in May compared to last year, said Daniel Guttentag, director of the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston.

While the Grand Bohemian is a luxury hotel in a quieter part of town away from the challenges of downtown, Lehman still feels “cautiously pessimistic.”

The reasons for that bit of pessimism, he said, are that Asheville is a place that many tourists have already been to, and the increase in inventory of hotels and short-term rentals are giving visitors more choices. Short-term rentals have eaten into multi-generational visits, he said, when having a whole house can be more convenient.

While his bookings have been relatively consistent or even slightly up, bookings for the important leaf season are soft, he said, and coming with shorter lead time than in the past.

“We’re concerned because it is softer.  We’re not panicked,” he said.

Several of the hoteliers said that Fox News reports on high crime in Asheville were likely a factor in some tourists’ decisions not to visit.

In the past, when business was slow, hoteliers often cut staffing. But they learned a lesson from the Covid pandemic: Building back staffing was difficult, even with much higher wages for workers. Lehman and others said they want to avoid staff cuts.

Lehman said it took almost a year to rebuild the team at the Grand Bohemian, and now he said, his aim is “keeping all these people, moms, and dads employed.”

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and surrounding communities.  Barbara Durr is a former correspondent for The Financial Times of London. Contact her at To show your support for this vital public service go to

143 replies on “Asheville businesses feel the pain of tourism decline”

  1. While I am a big fan of the watchdog, I am confused. In one part, part of the blame is economic uncertainty. But then the story talks about people going overseas and on cruises instead of coming to Asheville. this appears to be a contradiction. I believe the real reason is the 3rd one, that “the real or perceived threat of crime” has caused this downturn in visitors. Also, I wish the story had reported on other WNC cities like Waynesville and brevard and Hendersonville to see if they are also seeing a downturn in tourism. This would give a better picture of whether or not Asheville is being avoided by tourists for other areas percieved as having less crime. I hope you do a follow up to how this downturn will affect the cities coffers as sales tax reciepts are also down.

    1. Bob, thanks for reading the article and raising the question There are a variety of potential tourists out there. Some have the discretionary funds to go abroad. Others, less well off, may be deferring travel. We compared Asheville to similar-sized markets for the story. You raise an interesting point about other towns in the area. You’re correct that there’s more to follow up on this story.

      1. Thanks keith for the explanation. I also think another reason for less people eating/ shopping downtown is that Locals (such as myself and my wife) who would normally help subsidize these establishments, are not going due to the crime issues affecting Asheville. I can only speak for myself here, but we now go to other WNC cities( like the ones i mentioned) for our shopping/ eating and walking around. Surely other locals feel the same. You might have to see how much of this scenario is also affecting the bottom lines of these establishments. Thanks again for your response to my inquiry.

        1. Plus, people are sick of pulling up to every light in Avl , and having a sign stuck in our face. By people that look very capable of working!

        2. Bob…I completed agree with your take on this. My husband and I used to go downtown a lot to eat, drink and socialize. Now we go to Black Mountain, Weaverville or Hendersonville to eat out. We don’t feel nearly as safe in AVL as we once did. Sad but true.

      2. While we don’t wish any ill will toward the locals employed in the tourism business, the many long-time Asheville residents I know are silently cheering any decline in tourism. We’re fed up with the crowds and congestion, we rarely venture downtown because it’s a hassle and parking is often impossible. We used to make spur of the moment trips to eat downtown but that’s not possible 10 months out of the year because the popular restaurants are booked solid.

        As recently as 10 years ago Asheville was uncongested, affordable, authentic, safe, and – delightfully – slightly gritty. It’s none of those things now. Forests of our trees have been wiped out with unchecked development, our long range views have been blocked by hotels and the character of our neighborhoods has been degraded by STRs. Too many of our current and past city and county elected officials have favored tourism over the quality of life of the long-time residents (at least that’s how it looks from our vantage point). Our elected leaders let issues become crises before they finally act (homelessness, panhandling, the proliferation of hotels, STRs, protecting our forests…) and then too often spend hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars hiring consultants to tell them what to do. Or… Asheville Watchdog embarrasses them into action.

        Instead, spend our tax dollars on better pay for our police, firemen and teachers so we attract and retain them. Repair our crumbling roads. I’ve never spoken to an apartment dweller who wouldn’t prefer to have their own home, so promote, zone and support small affordable home communities (and du, tri and quadplexes) instead of these huge, unsightly apt. complexes that destroy the very character of our town and county. Eliminate the BCTDA. Sadly, every dollar it spends on marketing chips away at the quality of life of those of us who have lived here and been paying property taxes for decades.

        1. for clarity, this Bob is different from the original poster. I will add an H to the end of my bob for future posting. I also agree with this bob’s post, by the way. Bob H.

        2. This right here! I have been a local for 14 years and since I’ve returned to this new Asheville I avoid downtown like the plague. No one wants to deal with the crowds and the aggressive homeless cluttering our streets. Asheville has lost its charm of you ask me and it’s gotten far too expensive to even live in comfortably. There are far too many AirBnB’s and not enough affordable homes for locals anymore and it’s pushing people out. Rent goes up every year but my paycheck is not. I’m leaving Asheville next year because it’s just impossible to continue to afford it here. Greed took over and now Asheville is starting to feel it as a whole. Bring back old Asheville!

          1. Bingo. Hordes of homeless downtown prevents many from going downtown including me. No thanks.

        3. Well said. As a long term resident, my husband & I just don’t go downtown anymore. Who needs that hassle. We cheer a downturn in tourism. The hotels & restaurants have become greedy & the local’s quality of life is diminished.
          Please do check into the other cities for crime comparisons if you would and thank you for your article.

        4. This post says it all. As a former resident, it’s been sad watching Asheville lose its ‘local color.” If residents aren’t happy, no one should be. The problem today is that people travel “without intention.” If you visit a place not to appreciate, or understand, the local culture, but only to eat, drink, and “be merry,” you should stay at home!

        5. 100% agree with you. I’ve been here for 25 years and everything you said is true. If it wasn’t for so many of our friends, I would sell and be rid of this town.

        6. I am in total agreement with you. We moved into downtown Asheville as a permanent resident in 2017. We owned our condo since 2005. We were planning to retire and live downtown. We always walked into town to support the local restaurants and shops. We did so during the pandemic as well. The thanks we got from the City of Asheville was crime, filthy streets, trash everywhere and a 100-decibel outdoor music venue dropped in our laps. We soon learned that Asheville ONLY cares about the tourists. So we sold our condo to out of towners for their second home and moved outside the city. We seldom come into town for dinner or events. Like you, we venture off to Waynesville, Brevard, etc. for our Mountain enjoyment. It was loud and clear:” We don’t need locals to support us.” Sad to see this happen but the City Council and Ashville Tourism Development did this to themselves. Hope you all enjoy the tourists. They won’t be around in the middle of winter frequenting your shops. We won’t be either.

          1. Agreed. Live by the tourists, die by the tourists…and it’s always laughable that the one week that restaurants invite locals to dine out is in January when tourism and revenue are down…they can shove it up their pie hole.

      3. Word has gotten around that Asheville is a bit sketchy now, that may account for a slight dip. The biggest factor is that the wealthy and super rich are doing fine. The average family is struggling to afford groceries and basic living expenses. Probably why the Grand Bohemian is doing ok and the rank and file hotels are struggling. Same in life. The working people and the working poor are in bad shape. There are droves of people, many seniors, who have taken to van life to survive on fixed incomes. It’s pretty bad out there if you’re not well heeled. Ask how the pawn shops are doing. Average folks are pawning what they can to pay bills. People who have never had to pawn are finding it’s the only option to stay afloat. But the govt thinks everything is peachy. It’s not.

        1. I have northern friends that have said that they have seen reports about Asheville being “0 out of 10 recommend”. Asheville has become a city to avoid very quickly.

      4. Keith, Bob makes many excellent points. My friends and I are in our 50’s, 60’s and we rarely go downtown due to crime. We do go out to dinner regularly but gave up on all of the wonderful restaurants downtown. We don’t feel safe. And we’re the age group with some extra cash for dining. We miss some of those great restaurants but we won’t go unless the crime is no longer an issue.

    2. I absolutely agree. It is the rise in crime. I will not go to Ashville at night and I have told everyone about the crime in Ashville. I moved here because I felt it was a great place to live. It is quite the contrary now.

  2. The drop could also be accounted for by 8% less funds being spent on marketing the Asheville area by the TDA… combined with bad press it is easy to get to a 11-12% drop… How does it however compare to 2019 pre-COVID???

  3. Fox News isn’t the only outlet that has reported on Asheville’s troubling crime and safety issues. We moved to Charlottesville last year to be closer to grandkids, and many people ask us about the “high crime rate” in Asheville. That news made several national media outlets and undoubtedly has contributed to at least some of the tourism decline.
    We have seen that A’ville is starting to tackle the issue, which we applaud.

  4. Does it occur to any of these business analysts that tourism may be down because homeless people, drug addicts and criminals make our streets feel unsafe these days? Hardly a day goes by that there are not multiple instances of visitors and residents being harassed, assaulted and even killed here in Asheville. Not the kind of memories people want to make, for sure. I live here and have not visited downtown in several years because I no longer feel safe, even in daylight. Ditto West Asheville…the last time I patronized a restaurant there (Tastee Diner), I was unable to use their single-stall unisex bathroom because a homeless drug addict decided to shoot up during my 45-minute visit, monopolizing the bathroom the entire time. Management couldn’t be bothered to remedy the situation. I personally hope a lot of these hotels go belly up; too many were built and their structures ruined our beautiful downtown skyline. Their guests also crowded our streets and brought their bad driving habits from their home states with them. Maybe once those hotels are empty, someone will come along and make them into affordable housing units. This city has a lot of problems now, and I don’t see much being done to remedy them. We’re falling into the same state of disrepair as many other cities in America…San Francisco, for one, used to be absolutely charming and lovely. Now it’s a dump! Wake up America! And just in case you think this is being written by a rabid Republican, I’m not. I am deep, deep blue. I am also sad to see our beautiful city in such a state of decay. It hasn’t always been this way. But greed and corruption have become a cancer.

  5. The state legislature’s regulations for TAD’s create lucrative incentives for owners of tourism related businesses to neglect the people and infrastructure necessary to economic vitality. Towns and cities have no recourse to stop exploitation of their people and environment.

    More importantly, short-sighted special interests are free to plunder since the large pool of potential qualified Asheville civic leaders have withdrawn. Asheville’s sidewalks look like no one is home. As a destination, Asheville is in a race to the bottom.

    A beginning would be to ask Black Mountain how it manages to beautify and maintain its streets and downtown business area.

    Mike Reynolds

  6. Asheville went from a boarded up town to a happening eclectic SE town, to a beer town, and to activist town…..Complete with all things associated with politics. It’s dirtiness, anti-tourist, anti-capitalist, crime, homelessness, defund the police and reparations – All turn off tourists. People go on vacation to escape all that BS, not to wallow in it. Who wants to go on vacation where you are panhandled, don’t feel safe and have politics and causes thrown at you? All for $400 a night.

    1. Not to mention tearing down the monuments. This year we stayed in Black Mountain, a beautiful town. Rented a modern cottage in a great little village for the same price as a high rise downtown in Asheville and did not have to worry about the crime. We did take an Uber into Asheville one night to dine at Strada our favorite restaurant. Please clean things up. And yes, I do watch Fox News.

  7. My gut tells me that most people wanting to see Asheville are probably not Fox News aficionados. 😀

    1. maybe not JAT, but the locals from the other counties out here are. And if they see these stories and go elsewhere for their shopping/dining, that affects downtown businesses.

    2. Since Fox News was mentioned in the article, JAT, my gut tells me that some of their viewers may want to visit Asheville. I learned of Asheville’s problems from local news long before the Fox News articles. After Asheville decided to remove historical emblems, allow public property to be marred, and support reparations over law enforcement, my family and friends from nearby counties decided to not leave money there. Maybe Asheville needs some “Fox News aficionados” as public office holders. 😀

  8. I’m a local, and like Bob, I’m turning over in my head different, and sometimes contradictory factors. I frequent downtown businesses and restaurants, as well as those in Biltmore Village and West Asheville. I also actively volunteer with homeless populations. I must say, in all honestly, that I am increasingly out off by aggressive panhandling. A couple of times this summer I had my young grandsons with me, either in the car, or walking in downtown or West Asheville, only to have a member of the homeless population I serve, and who was clearly high on drugs, approach us, or I witnessed business owners involved in altercations with them. I realize that this is a complex issue, but…
    Another issue I have, as my husband and I frequently join foodie friends in dining out, is sticker shock on menus! Especially downtown and in Biltmore Village! Couple this with finding and paying for a place to park!!!!
    I look incredibly at all the new hotels going up downtown. Having taught marketing for years, I wonder where the demand is. And, so many packed so close to one another ruin the special atmosphere that is downtown. More and more are being built near Ann St and Haywood St where long-standing community churches have fled due to open drug use, etc., nearby as organizations working with the homeless are adjacent.
    Hard to say what is best for the common good.

    1. I agree with your comment about sticker shock at downtown restaurants. My belief is that most restaurants went overboard in raising food prices after Covid to play catch up. And one of the largest price increases is on cocktail and wine prices. It is hard to pay less than $12 to $15 for a glass of wine, or $11 to $13 for a simple
      gin & tonic, when a year or so ago a glass of house wine was $6 to $8. The price of booze has not increased to that extent.

  9. I am curious if some of the downturn has to do with how things gotten so much worse here in terms of crime, drugs, and homelessness. The trash everywhere makes it a bit less scenic as well. Maybe the word is getting out that Asheville is not what it used to be. I moved here because I fell in love with Asheville but it has changed so much in the past few years and I am not so sure that I would make the same decision again.

    1. Definitely wouldn’t move there now and in light of everything mentioned regarding crime, the homeless flocking to Asheville where they panhandle aggressively anywhere they want, and the state of the hospital system serving WNC, definitely wouldn’t move there now.

  10. I agree with Bob that the crime factor, which is finally being addressed late in the game, is probably a good part of what is happening. I’m also curious about other locales, and the GPI, as to whether their revenues have been affected.

  11. I am friends with an older couple who have a house in AZ and a house in Arden.
    When we visit they have told us they no longer go downtown to eat or drink and prefer to drive to Greenville SC and stay on Main St to bar crawl with friends.
    Apparently there was somekind of panhandler incident since nobody really Carries cash anymore and they felt threatened. They said they used to recommend Asheville to retirees in AZ to visit but no longer do so. I have myself noticed that Greenville is now receiving the accolades as the place to visit and retire. This is my own personal observation and it may not be the larger picture.

    1. Greenville is a great, clean, vibrant place to visit and to retire. Housing prices are much better too.

      1. Greenville is too hot and too conservative for my taste. But you’re right—it’s very clean. But Asheville was once clean too.

        1. As Asheville builds more hotels, asphalts more parking areas, builds huge apt complexes and cuts acres and acres of trees it will continue to get hotter too. It’s not that far behind Greenville now.

        2. Yes it was a beautiful place years ago, so think about your statement and reflect on it . Greenville will NEVER allow the panhandling and homeless and the disgusting open drug use in its beautiful town . So ask yourself why is Asheville in the shitter ,, it’s the people you voted in with there Liberal mindset, so enjoy the mess you all created,

        3. That’s why it’s better… more conservative leadership… there is a correlation that is undeniable.

  12. Asheville is now hotel city. Everywhere one turns, another hotel is going up. $$$ are more important than the people who live here. Maybe Asheville is finally adjusting itself.

    I support the Watchdog as do many other Asheville residents. It would be nice to see more articles and interviews about how the quality of life in Asheville and the infrastructure used by residents has deteriorated due to the emphasis on tourism rather than the people living here. How many of us really care that Asheville chefs are appearing on television? How many of us care that Asheville is #1 beer city? How many of us care that the number of tourists has gone up or is going down a bit when the Chamber gets the tourists taxes to advertise for more tourists rather than benefit those living here. Please don’t comment it is due to state law. The number of hotels built and being built has nothing to do with that law. It has every thing to do with overuse of infrastructure and constant building noise. For example, roads are filled with potholes and patches, but since that doesn’t affect tourism, they are neglected. Years ago roads were repaved, not patched.

    Locals avoid the downtown restaurants and events because the inundation of tourists makes it difficult to park, get into many places and the crime (many locals won’t go downtown after dark). Restaurant and event prices have been hiked because tourists will pay and they’re out of reach for many residents. Homeless drug addicted people are attracted to tourist areas where there’s drug money from panhandling.

    More than enough articles in our media are about tourism and not enough about Ashevilleians’ quality of life. Is there someone out there who, rather than being interested in liberalism, conservatism or only $$$, is interested in the people who live here? Please run for our local elections.

  13. The truth is that in the five years that we have lived in Asheville the downtown has become skuzzier and skuzzier. We rarely go there because of unpleasant panhandlers and hoards of tourists. Thank you Watchdog for your reporting.

  14. Having lived here for over 30 years and watching the downtown revitalization, I really feel that the locals have been slowly left out, pushed out to the outlying areas by catering to tourists, drunk or just oblivious and sky high prices.

    1. No question Asheville has deteriorated in the last decade. The last few years have accelerated the wrong path our visionless leaders had already laid out. If you’ve visited Asheville once, that’s enough. It now has all the markings of a tourist trap. The locals are lucky to maintain one roof over the heads. Most 2nd homers have no clue what it takes to work and survive here. So yeah, check your privilege.

  15. I live on Sunset Drive North Asheville and use Cherokee Road everyday
    The road is in terrible shape with potholes and parts of the road washing away . I have noticed that many roads in this area are in the same condition
    Neighbors are concerned about the roads around North Asheville and are contacting the city receiving no response
    I was wondering if an article could be written about this problem
    Maybe we would get the city’s attention!

  16. We purchased a home in the Asheville area 15 years ago and come to town during the summer and fall months. Over the years we have enjoyed downtown Asheville for the food, music, festivals, and of course the beer. We felt safe on the streets after dark and the cost for food and parking were very reasonable. Over the last couple of years we have been reluctant to go downtown due to the increase in crime, homelessness. Additionally, the cost for parking and food is ridiculous comparatively.

    1. Yet, you seem completely oblivious to your part in this problem… perhaps because of your part-time residency….

    2. Must be nice to have two homes while you price us out of our one. You’re part of the problem. Comment elsewhere.

  17. I own a home in North Asheville. I spend half the year there, or less and have for years. The thing I see more of now than ever is the negativity of the people who live here year-round. I still go downtown, park and eat at local restaurants. Not much has changed other than less people occupying the park downtown. I don’t know how many locals have been to big cities where homelessness has always been an issue, but maybe people need to learn how to deal with being panhandled, without having a hissy fit. Go to dinner a little early. Stop bitching and enjoy life in a beautiful place.

    1. Check your privilege sir. Not everyone has a 2nd home in North Asheville. The wealthy probably do enjoy Asheville. If you aren’t working 2 jobs and dodging homeless zombies and needles in between or worrying about getting to your car safely at midnight downtown you don’t have the right to chide the rest of us.

    2. As a full-time resident, I can assure you that downtown is dramatically different than it was 10 to 15 years ago. Parking was easy then, you could readily obtain reservations to eat (or didn’t need them) and panhandlers were rare. In the past couple years I’ve been followed to my car downtown by aggressive panhandlers on two occasions and a woman called me a ‘Mother$#&$r’ a month ago when I declined to give her any money. I can handle myself so I wasn’t worried in the least, but the point is that these kinds of things didn’t happen in past years (at least not to me). Comparing life in Asheville to how tough life in a ‘big city’ is ignores the entire issue that the quality of life in Asheville has been on a steady decline for several years. Asheville had a gritty charm and ease to it that set it apart from all the ‘big cities’ I’ve lived in. But it’s steadily morphing into a smaller version of a big, overcrowded, unaffordable, sketchy, inconvenient city, largely facilitated by our current and past elected officials.

    3. Mark, your advice is to those of us to live here full-time is to accept the decline and get used to panhandling, etc. No thank you. Changes have to be made and soon.

      1. Exactly! Mark’s argument that life is tough in his part-time big city so ‘toughen up Asheville’ misses the entire point. Life in Asheville has steadily deteriorated over the past few years as many of our elected officials have favored tourism over the quality of life of local residents and taxpayers.

    4. Mark I do not think it was a good idea to tell people you only live here PT. Some of those fine , industrious people living /hanging out downtown might be looking for a great home in N. Asheville to, how can I say this diplomatically, “take up residence in” during your escapades elsewhere. Enjoy eviction court my friend, then tell me how much you LOVE it here.

    5. Wow. How sanctimonious of you, Mark. The audacity of this statement is cringe worthy. Take that attitude to your other part time place of residence and stay.

    6. Geez Mark. Really. You spend less than half your time here & your advice is to go to dinner early. Not helpful.

  18. The level of addiction and panhandling in our streets has sky rocketed in the past three years. Both are seen in density and numbers. There were 25 people under the Lexington Avenue bridge. Nice Asheville! Well done. You are allowing the addicts to take priority over literally everyone else in this city.

    I went downtown for a meal and saw two homeless people in two different locations with kittens. Who is giving out kittens to the homeless? I was then nearly bulldozed down by a female meth addict who had her fly down and was literally staggering by Isa’s Bistro.

    The look is really bad. These people either need to be sent to rehab. The only way that will happen is if they are arrested and given two choices: Jail or Rehab. And now our jail is aiming to reduce the jail population. So tell me how our city will ever turn around?

    1. Eaxactly what everyone who lives here is wondering! Why don’t we quit the struggle of multiple jobs, we don’t matter. We contiue to move further and further away just to be able to afford it here for menial pay. It’s not worth it anymore. Asheville Elite: you may have to wait on and clean up after your tourists yourself. I’m looking to get out of this losing battle.

      1. Sarah, I feel for you and others in your situation. I definitely encourage you to find a place that’s beautiful and still affordable so that you can put down roots and not continue a treadmill existence. Lots of places in Tennessee and Virginia that aren’t nearly so cool or full of themselves as Asheville has become. I truly hope you and others give tourism here the finger and strike out on your own for your own good. Let the wealthy part-timers bag their own groceries and wait in line for an overpriced beer or underwhelming plate of food…

  19. Hopefully, the decline will aid some much-needed market corrections to make this place more pleasant for full-time residents working a variety of essential jobs not at all related to serving overpriced food and beer and/or flogging trendy trinkets to tourists.

  20. Voters got what they voted for. Now it’s a soulless tourist trap that caters to equal parts tourists and homeless heroin addicts, and people who are just trying to live here and function day to day are caught in a maelstrom of their own consequences. Moving away next year and I suggest anyone with half a brain do the same.

      1. Me too this place is a dumpster full of crime , hate and homeless aggressive drug addicts. But wait,,, isn’t this what the City voted for ????? They got what they wanted. Another Detroit

  21. I’d like to see the AVL Watchdog investigate and report on the political influence that a few non-profits have in shaping policies towards homelessness, panhandling, needle exchange, etc…

    1. correct LM, I also would like to know how the LOUD vocal few have compromised our city gov. I would also like to know how much city/county/state/andFed help/grants they receive and who is accountable to who on how they spend that $$$$$

    2. There is a homeless industry here. I want to see that story. How many agencies are here serving the homeless? Where does their funding come from? How much do these agencies pay employees from the directors to the janitors? These agencies need the homeless and attract it here. Beloved, AHope, ABCCM, just to name a few. The influence these agencies exert over public policy and funding needs to be investigated because they do not act in the best interest of citizens, but keeping their pockets lined and keeping a flow of clients.

  22. Think about it the mayor and county officials wanted to defend the police the depth is down 140 officers and. Won’t get positions filled because it unsafe in downtown because of the panhandle and drugs and the officials don’t want to clean up Asheville. Also the officials have run off your police not letting them enforce the laws.

  23. I no longer feel safe living here, I wouldn’t come vacation. Over the last 3 years I have been a victim of violent crime and seen violent crime perpetrated by homeless people high and hallucinating. Just today I watched as 2 men at two separate times of the day wandered down my road erratically, obviously hallucinating and acting bizarrely. I am afraid to let my teen daughter out of the house unsupervised in our own yard because of this. And I live in a neighborhood, not downtown. I 100% believe the poor handling of the drug crisis and the homeless is the cause of the downturn in tourism.

  24. Looking forward to the follow up story; How has locals avoiding downtown affected the bottom line of the shops and restaurants. And how is this tourism downturn affecting parking reciepts for the city owned garages?

  25. Not clearing 100$/day!?

    Clearly’ Mount Inspiration company’ would be going under regardless if local tourism was booming

  26. I spent 5 days in July in Ashville for a family reunion. Amazed at how many degenerates/ homeless young adults had taken over the city. Did not go downtown after dark and very little during the day. They were everywhere, it was not a welcoming site. I cannot recommend a visit to Ashville, other than a Biltmore tour to anyone. Clean up the streets and the tourist will come back.

  27. Asheville is like many other cities in the US. Bidenomics has wrecked the economy and the “defund the police movement” has made the cities more dangerous. Vote wisely in the future if you want things to get better. As I have said for years, “who you vote for can end up costing you a lot of money”. In 2020 and other elections, many people forgot the famous political statement : “it’s the economy stupid” and voted for the wrong leadership (or lack of).

  28. I’m curious if other residents don’t resent the increases property taxes and water fees as we look around at our trashed city with declining services including few police, terrible streets and no water on many occasions? If the police dept is such a huge part of our budget, why aren’t we getting rebates since our force is down 42% and we can’t pay enough to attract recruits? And doesn’t the increase in crime, both downtown and in neighborhood parks, warrant that we offer a premium salary to any LEO willing to move here to live and work? What’s wrong here????

    1. Beer and baseball…Homeless and hotels…Pit of despair and pitiful pay…Consultants and council…Micro-housing and myopia…

  29. I worry that the city that I was born in 70 years ago is overly promoting the hospitality industry which produces low wage( often below minimum wage) jobs, cookie cutter motels owned by out of town investors and faddish attractions. I would prefer to see the economic development funds go to higher wage industries through infrastructure investment and the education to support high wage/higher skill careers.

    Also, it would appear that the airport traffic contradicts the numbers from the hospitality industry. The airport is now allowing far more flights than the airport infrastructure can handle. The Airport authority needs to think through the ramifications of allowing the number of flights that they have approved and frequently from less reliable airlines. Everything from parking to baggage claim has been severely compromised

    1. The airport is another fiasco that could use some light shined on it. Its been under construction for at least 20 years in some shape or form and its never any better.

    2. If you know that people are being paid less than minimum wage, and have not reported this to the Feds, then you are the problem. How can someone sit by and not do something? You’re are either not telling the truth or are complicit in illegal behaviors.

  30. It’s so interesting to read these comments. I live on the Outer Banks, and locals here have very similar complaints — except we’re not a city and don’t have much open drug use or homeless folks on the street. People here complain about the gigantic houses still being built on the beachfront, tearing down all the cool old bar and dance venues and wiping out our historic places that gave us character. Plus, we literally have no affordable housing for year-round residents, the cost of living is way too high and businesses can’t get enough workers because they have no place to live. It’s a major, major problem. Maybe the tourists who were going to go to Asheville came here, because we’ve had more traffic and crowds than during Covid, even. I do think over-tourism is starting to ruin a lot of places, and the problem is it’s become so lucrative, it blocks out the sun, and nothing else seems to matter. It’s a tough situation to solve, because there’s so far nothing to replace tourism as far as economic value. But at least communities like ours and yours are starting to talk about it and are trying to work together.

    1. I think this is an age-old problem. Once the word gets out about a place, more people come and usually diminish what was charming about it in the first place. I think it was perhaps 25 years ago the L.A. Times ran a feature story on Asheville, which thrilled so many here. I told my family this was the beginning of big changes, and most, not good.

    2. I wonder though- do your tax dollars made from tourism go back into promotion tourism to your beach town/county? Or is that only an Asheville thing?

  31. Wow- Bidenomics has wrecked the economy. That senseless statement and the whining about crime are really something. The literal bottom line in this story is that 2021 and 2022 were enormous boom years and now things are more normal. The TDA and the insane hotel building are two factors that are destroying the Asheville eco y and scene. The difference in the last 8 years is dramatic.

    1. Have you bought gas, groceries, or anything else lately? Prices are much, much higher under Biden.

      1. Do you understand anything about supply chains and Covid? Just look up the cost of container shipping over the past 4 years. Just, on another front, look up what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done to wheat markets. Just look up some facts.

        1. while I understand your comments WCB (my wife directs shipments for her company) my only comment would be that if President Biden wants to take credit for parts of our economy (like job creation)and said from day one “the buck stops with me” he should expect to be held responsible for all aspects of our economy. we did not come up with Bidenomics, he did!! our credit rating was just downgraded by fitch, not only due to governance policies, but our soon to be exploding debt going much higher over the next 3 yrs. and the possibility of a recession still looming. He also said he would “pull all Americans together” yet now freely questions the supreme court’s legitimacy and believes “mega maga Republicans” are responsible for the countries woes. all he is accomplishing is solidifying the former presidents base. Why do you think that right now he is running neck and neck in the polls with a now thrice indicted man? imagine doing such a great job allegedly, but you can barely beat a soon to be possible convicted criminal. Yikes.

  32. I first came to Asheville in the 1990s when there were no breweries and there was one bar in town called be here now. The big event was shindig on the Green. And it was cheap to live here. To say that Asheville went through a metamorphosis is an understatement. I think in all of the shifting identities it’s kind of lost its soul. In fact I moved away from Asheville 4 years ago and now live in Savannah, which is experiencing some of the same growing pains as Asheville. I don’t think there’s any one reason visitation has gone down it doesn’t seem like it’s anything that alarming. The only thing I will say is for anyone not in an upper income bracket it’s become prohibitively expensive. And a lot of people opt for other places now that are cheaper and offer the same amenities and activities. Asheville used to be unique, artsy, fun, carefree, cheap and weird. I’m not so sure it’s any of those things anymore.

  33. The deteriorating downtown situation can leave both locals and tourists feeling uncomfortable and unsafe. Anecdotally, locals aren’t visiting downtown as often and visitors frequently mention being uncomfortable due to interactions with panhandling/street folks.

  34. Well said, John Tripp. In my humble opinion, when Jonas Gerard became the face of “Asheville Art” it was game over. Creatives started moving out years ago because of low wages and lack of affordable housing.

  35. I am always impressed by the amount of bougie nimbyism on the part of those folks who own 2nd homes here and don’t stay year round but are mad because Asheville isn’t doing what they think it should. They have a lot to say about how bad things are, but rarely any ideas about solutions… just a lot of entitled screaming someone fix it for me….

    I am tired of their whining.

  36. I am a little confused by the folks on here who are crowing about the level of crime in downtown. What are you comparing it to? Your homogeneous gated community in Naples Florida?

      1. LM, A’ville native here as well. I have memories of downtown in the early 70’s, and I seriously doubt that anyone would have flocked here if that was how the city remained. I think the growth has been mostly positive, and I am hesitant to believe that downtown crime is what many on this thread are claiming. Also, it is disingenuous to fill the perimeters of our city with more and more people and expensive real estate, and not expect that growth to also affect downtown.

        1. KS, this is not our claims. please see the crime stats released by APD. double digit increases in violent crimes reported. This is not hype, but reality.

  37. Excellent points made. At this point, this is a worldwide problem: big and smaller cities in Europe and elsewhere are literally telling people to stay away, if not preventing discouraging/preventing them from coming altogether. Short-term rentals banned, part-time residents (if even that) buying up properties leading to jacked-up prices/rents for folks who’ve lived in these places their entire lives … too depressingly familiar.

    To make an analogy that some clearly won’t like, but chasing the tourism dollar has become just as addictive, deceptive and a means for financial/political power grabs as much as fossil fuels defenses have: any level of destruction to anyone and anything else is tolerable in their world – necessary even – as long as it is profitable. Those quotes from Vic Isley are prime examples of that kind of fraudulent argument in my opinion yet too many just eat it up as gospel, to the detriment of everyone who lives here.

    I can’t even begin say what I want about the business owners complaining about profits being down. They should have a chat with the TDA about unrealistic expectations – the city being totally over hyped and under-delivering for years now – and ask for reimbursement accordingly.

  38. Frankly, I’m baffled by the onslaught of negativity about downtown. My experience is nothing like what people are reporting. I am downtown regularly, and I see no tsunami of scary aggressive panhandlers. I see no disgustingly dirty streets. I see an often-crowded but lively streetscape.

    I’ve hosted friends visiting from out of town and I’ve *never* had any of them comment negatively about the look or feel of downtown Asheville. And I simply cannot imagine forgoing an event downtown in the evening because of a perception of “too much crime.”

    I’ve lived in Asheville for over a decade now. It’s definitely changed in the time I’ve been here… but so has *everywhere* I’ve lived for a long time. Personally, I believe this whole article is an argument for diversifying the economy of Asheville and Buncombe County away from an overdependence on tourism, and toward a more sustainable, better-paying, growing sector: renewable energy, environmental sciences, and a climate-resilient future.

    1. Nina, are you saying that the other 80 people who all have negative experiences to speak of are to be dismissed as “hype”? Are you not the least bit concerned that for either real or perceived reasons, locals are staying away from downtown and going to other cities close by but outside of Buncombe county? I have been here 16 yrs. and the changes downtown (for the worse) are indeed very noticeable.

    2. Nina, nice sales pitch for your new nonprofit business. If you need office space downtown sounds like there’s availability around the intersection of Patton and Ann. Maybe someone with a business there previously or trying to do business there now can provide you with a more balanced view of crime downtown

  39. My wife and I avoid downtown during tourist season even during the daytime because it’s so overrun with people and short on parking. The hyped crime chatter doesn’t enter into it. Meanwhile, I see major league baseball has successfully extorted the community into subsidizing a privately owned team to the extent of $35 million while the Thomas Wolfe Vomitorium continues to crumble and lose patronage. The hoteliers should just hope none of their visitors have occasion to visit that civic slum lest they see how Ashville stiffs culture.

  40. I recently picked a friend up at the Asheville airport and we decided to spend 2 days in Asheville before going to where I live about 2 hours south in a small town in north Georgia. I hadn’t been in Asheville for about 20 years and after being there again I’m in no hurry to go back to visit. As a lot have said the homeless situation was pretty bad, the street vendors were annoying, the areas were kind of dirty and the overall vibe was unwelcoming. Of course, I have friends in Nashville who won’t go downtown there anymore for the same reasons, and I use to live in Orlando and the same problems exists there too. Maybe it’s just a natural progression these days & is what happens when small towns ‘ grow up’. I think I’ll keep my great little town in N. Georgia a secret! 😉

  41. I am not an Asheville resident, but a resident of WNC (Bryson City). I find that the shops and restaurants around the area have prices that are out of this world. The ‘shop local’ signs are an insult. Most of the shops have nothing I need, and when I do find something, I know I can just order it somewhere else. Cost plus shipping is much cheaper. I stopped by a food truck for a grilled cheese- $15. Every craft beer is $8 to $10, a cheesesburger is $20, side orders are $5, and, because there is no affordable housing for restaurant workers, the waitress is working the grill (true story) and your food will be poor (I still tipped well, she was hustling). I need to point out that the rate of inflation is not that high. I love living here, and I don’t really eat out that much, but let’s be real. We are pricing ourselves out of a good living. I am a whitewater rafting guide, and we are not suffering.

    1. You’ve nailed it, Dave. I’m a longtime resident and I dine out only as a last resort. My partner and I are good cooks, almost chef level. We eat lavishly at home–wild game, red wine, food from our garden–and often remark that our meals would cost at least $200 at Jargon or one of the overpriced places around town where essential workers are needed but cannot afford to eat. I’m also unwilling to visit Salvage Station where they serve unaffordable beer in plastic cups. But we place a high premium on protecting rivers and supporting those such as you whose livelihoods are closely aligned with Nature, our area’s most valuable resource. Unfortunately, those hawking beer and trinkets and baseball have had the ears of local council members while citizens trying to save neighborhoods and forests and quality of life are often shut out and told they’re naive. So I really couldn’t care less if some hotel or restaurant catering to tourists is struggling.

  42. I moved downtown in 2016 and loved it in spite of its problems which weren’t as bad then. Still love it but in 7 years it has certainly gotten worse, I often toy with the idea of moving elsewhere.
    I have watched drug addled young men bent over and spinning like tops, heard the gut-wrenching meltdowns of schizophrenics at 3am and witness the grifters with the kitten out on Battery Park. I still shop downtown but I don’t carry a handbag anymore and never wear jewelry. I have been harassed by some bum almost every time I step out the door. I refuse to engage with any of them. It’s like running a gauntlet of “walkers” to go do my banking, shopping and other activities.
    I don’t go to the restaurants much other than 2 fair priced favorites nearby. I never go out after dark.
    Yes, creeps and crime are an issue but so are the prices of dining out. Heck, the price of anything, and much of it is because of the exorbitant cost to business owners to rent space downtown. Add the cost of cleaning up the filth of others and I’m surprised any businesses remain.
    I moved to the area in 1993 when town was starting to become interesting and watched it bloom into a fun, exciting place.
    Now… its shabby as hell and really sad.
    I wouldn’t know where to tell the city to begin to fix it though a good start would be for them to resign, then we elect smart people and not woke idiots. When I hear what this city has spent on “experts” to advise them I am shocked at their stupidity and laziness. All anyone need do is walk around and observe. All that wasted money on “studies” could have gone to pay police better!
    As for the high cost of living here, everywhere is bad that way. May as well stay put and fix it. I have friends all over this country and they have the same problems- crime, drug users, homelessness, violence, diminished law enforcement and terrible hospitals.
    Sounds like Asheville.
    Asheville sure used to be good in every way, no longer.
    It’s a shame folks but honestly, its time the good people of WNC figure out and deal with the problems themselves. Our leaders are useless, the police have been treated so bad and paid so poorly they won’t be back. Why should they? Arrests don’t stick, why bother if the thugs get let loose a few hours later?
    How do we fix it ourselves? Start by not participating with the grifters. don’t give them money! Offer them food or warm clothing if you feel the need to help but never cash. Walk in groups and be aware of your situation, let would be thieves know you see them. Carry pepper spray and tasers. Use them if threatened.
    Lastly- seems the people and programs in place to help the homeless don’t have much of a success rate. I don’t want to see the tax dollars of residents thrown at these problems anymore. So, let that be privately funded by the hopeful.
    I love Asheville, I love the people here. I see no solutions coming from the powers that be. Find your own.
    I refuse to fund programs, hand out cash and am never afraid to tell some young, able bodied young one to get off their ass and learn to pull their own weight. I pulled mine and it wasn’t easy. It never has been.
    Now, will wait for the bleeding-heart screamers to tell me a thing or two about my “privilege”. In advance, I say grow up and get in touch with reality. Live isn’t fair and nature is cruel.
    I pay my taxes, observe the laws and have pulled my own weight a long time. I have done fine and will not be made to feel bad for my success.

  43. God bless you L D. you are not alone in your feelings. this happens to alot of us now. please stay safe.

  44. I live in Atlanta and am a total mark for Asheville tourism – family, disposable income, outdoorsy. We went last in winter 2021 and won’t be back ever, or until the city gets its act together, fires their politicians and tells the woke activists, who clearly have a stranglehold on this town, to take a hike. We will gladly spend our money in Greenville, which is a much better town and downtown – clean, well run, safe, welcoming, and of course cheaper than Asheville. To all the starving artists complaining about tourists and seasonal residents – what do you think makes Asheville go round?

  45. I agree 100% with those folks that applaud any downturn or demise of the tourist industry here. After living here for 50 years, I have seen Asheville turn into another crapulent sprawling megalopolis without any regard for it’s residents. Zoning and proper oversight of saving trees and habitat are non-existent. The so called progressives and liberals among the city council and county commissioners are that in name only, and have allowed rapacious overdevelopment to destroy communities and habitat. They have turned this city and region over to the ravages of developers who have absolutely no connection to this region and bring in workers and supplies from elsewhere. The planning boards are made up of people with vested interests in real estate, tourism and development with a few token environmentalists.

    How many hotels does the city need? How many multi-unit future slum condos and apartments do we need? It is a win win for them because of the tax breaks they would get if their enterprises fail. Thank you, Ronald Raygun.

    NC 25 south to Hendersonville was lined with bucolic farms and beautiful rural vistas. Look at it now, a disgusting capitalist sprawl with insane traffic. Now the greed heads to Weaverville. It is only a matter of time before this area looks like the horror that Greensboro and the Triad are now.

    It is obvious that the county commissioners and the city council have no long term plan for development and allow absolutely anything to proceed. They should take a field trip to Cary or some of the neighborhoods around Raleigh to see how intelligent elected officials have proceeded with development AND retained greenways, native habitat and commerce that does not assault the eyes, nor make the stomach turn.

    1. Yep, and there are some local officials who operate short-term rentals and then have the smug audacity to sound off/make grandstanding speeches regarding the shortage of affordable housing…precisely why I voted against the affordable housing bonds…just subsidizing tourism.

  46. I live within two hours of the formerly attractive town of Asheville. I stayed in hotels, went to music shows and ate in restaurants…always downtown. That stopped about four years ago. That area has become an open toilet. The woke locals have allowed and encouraged the slide to oblivion..what the heck did they expect? I would not stay in a downtown hotel for free. Naked, drugged-out lunatics everywhere. No thanks..not returning. Asheville; enjoy the squalor you have created.

  47. Asheville is a hard place to live these days. Decent affordable housing is non existent. Some of us are sheltered well and can afford to live here. Others are renting actual closets in homes for $ 800.00 a month. I live within 30 miles of Asheville and have no reason to go there. It’s just not worth the hassle. It used to be fun and different… I agree the leadership needs an instant overhaul. There is no intellectual curiosity among them. Just watch a council meeting on youtube to get an idea of how lackluster they are. They just keep passing the buck to different committees and consultants with no results. The system is designed for gridlock and that’s what we have. Pay the cops not the baseball stadium gazillionaires. Run HCA hospital out of here while you’re at it, they’ve done nothing but destroy healthcare in the region which is another reason people want out of here or won’t come here. The state and local govt created this mess. They should clean it up.

  48. Why are all of you so negative?

    You have money and comfortable lives – go visit a grave yard and think that every one buried there also complained about things around them when they were alive, but now they would change places with you in a second – live your life and be to nice to people around you – you might be happier

      1. I understand – but a lot of the comments are just complains – read Sad right below our posts – feels some people just want to blame

        1. Well David, what’s the better course of action… to stay silent and long suffering?
          As downtown property owners we pay a heavy price in taxes and the city is responsible for a great many things. When they fail to keep up their end, we all get more than a little tired. Yes indeed, there is some blame handed out. As it should be.
          As for folks having money and a comfortable life, I say “good job!” to anyone that does. They earned it and don’t need to visit the cemetery to learn their lesson about the “privilege” of being alive.
          It’s a bit more work to live in a way that causes no bother or harm to others. That’s the life I lead, wish all folks did the same. Happily, most do.
          David, you sound very young. God bless you if you are.
          As you said we should live our lives and be nice to people. I agree… if they merit it.

    1. So it’s okay for business owners to complain about crime, inability to find workers and/or downturns in business? And it’s okay for low-wage workers to complain that they can’t afford to live here? But it’s considered to be negative when resident taxpayers point out some of the many reasons and causes and suggest that a good supply-side economics kick in the ass might sort things out? If you visit some grave yards (as you’ve so sagely suggested), you might come across the names of many ‘complainers’ who stood up to hypocrisy, worked as abolitionists, protected forests, advocated for children or helped women gain the right to vote.

  49. How sad that Asheville has sunk to this. It used to be called the Land of the Sky and Cool Green Asheville and it was. Now it’s called a cesspool of needles, human excrement and assaults and nothing is being done to even slow it down. Almost 900,000 needles were handed out during 2021-2022 and most of them now cover school playgrounds, parks, greenways and downtown. How sad for the people that live there.

  50. My wife and I love coming to Asheville but the crime and woke factor have made us chose other locations. Hope the town realizes that defunding the police, going woke, and running off your life’s blood of tourism business was a major mistake. Go woke, go broke.

    1. No, technically they didn’t. they did however make it so hard for police to do their jobs and stay safe at the same time that many quit because of it- and what a shame that this happened. I never realized how poorly the LEO’s were paid until recently. Shameful considering how dangerous their work has become.
      Fox news should be shut off, along with CNN, ABC, NBC and all affiliate stations.

    2. Cujo, you’re correct. They were creative in their approach to “demands” for defunding the police by 50%. The city only cut the police budget that year by $770,000. For some reason after that we experienced a 41% reduction in the police force?Maybe that was a negotiated deal for “the greater good”???(info not gathered from Fox News)😊

  51. Sorry we are the tourists that no longer come up to Asheville. We had vacation money to spend and enjoyed the area, restaurants and events for years. But your local and state reps which the local residents voted for have not come up with answers to balance the needs of locals and tourists. So we have reduced spending our extra money in the area. We still drive through for lunch or dinner, and hope someday again to spend more time enjoying the area. Good luck.

  52. Thanks Cujo. Seriously doubt you are an owner of anything in this fair city. Thus you can’t really feel the true impact of lost business due to bad decisions. You are right. I forgot. All your police officers quit due to bad decisions by the Asheville politicians. So you “defunded” your tourism business. Your reply is also indicative of the unwelcome nature of Asheville any longer. Im not a Fox News viewer but this liberal knee jerk reaction certainly sums up the problem nicely. Have a great day Cujo!

  53. If only some people realized that the local govts in this area have been corrupt forever. If you were here when the county sheriff was running an illegal gambling business, it wasn’t that long ago. I think he died in prison or soon after. Then a bunch of county officials embezzled millions and nobody noticed for years. Kick back schemes galore. The gov’t is obviously inept, that’s why the people need to speak up. The Christmas water fiasco, it goes on and on. Asheville can’t be run like a folksy little mountain town when it has big city problems. Toxic Positivity doesn’t help the situation, we need solutions to preserve a quality of life here and prevent it from getting worse.

  54. Yeah there are issues downtown, but the county itself is in tatters. Walmart parking lots turn into adhoc homeless shelters overnight, but of people living in cars. There are homeless camps spread throughout the city and county. The Dept of Social Services is about to implode because they have no staff and can’t recruit any. This is about more than panhandling and finding a parking spot to enjoy your beer and tapas, or your farm to fork whatever. We got some serious issues here and a lot of heads in the sand.

    1. We sure do. So many issues. Pick a topic: housing, homeless, drugs, police. Crime, water, wages, traffic, transportation, roads, education. Name one and it’s a problem here.

  55. Asheville airport ( has reported a historic high of over 200,000 passengers per month for the months of June & July, 2023. Tourists are coming to enjoy beautiful WNC, but downtown Asheville has poisoned their own well. We are so happy to be residents of Hendersonville and love everything about “Hendo,” Flat Rock, Brevard and surrounding areas; we never venture to downtown Asheville anymore (for the first time in my life) for the same feelings so many have already so accurately expressed herein.

  56. My girlfriend and I attended a couple of nice music shows this weekend during the inaugural AVL Fest. Walking to our car near Broadway’s Bar on Saturday night, we encountered dozens of very large and fat rats running toward us, around us. Never seen such a sight in all my years in Asheville. Are downtown businesses having serious infestation problems?

  57. Local media reports a decline in tourism and a large increase of traffic at the Asheville airport. Someone please explain how these 2 trends can happen at the same time.

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