Buncombe County’s Tourist Development Authority began advertising for tourists to visit Asheville again – on the same day that the county’s top public health official said coronavirus cases were “rising at an alarming rate.”
The ad campaign, designed to promote “the safe and responsible return of visitation,” featured social media posts like one picturing a young couple picnicking on the bank of a river. “We invite you to pack your bags and masks, and safely experience our mountain oasis.”
On July 14, just five days after the ads began, the TDA pulled the plug. The reason: a viral surge – both of the pandemic kind, and of a social media variety.
The TDA had planned for the first scenario, monitoring Covid-19 trends in the target area, a 300-mile radius considered drivable to Asheville. When the campaign launched,