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Lawmakers hope to rebound tourism industry impacted by pandemic

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Asheville’s tourism industry has taken a major hit in recent weeks. 

Friday, Sen. Chuck Edwards announced the Buncombe County Jobs Recovery Act. It is legislation designed to provide financial assistance to tourism-related businesses — like restaurants, museums, and attractions.

“It was just something that I felt strongly about, and to not wait until this issue is over to be able to have something available now,” Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher said. Belcher says the Act has been in the works for weeks, and presented the idea to Sen. Edwards.

The five million dollar fund, would come from occupancy taxes, collected by hotels and other lodging businesses.

“So, instead of giving grants to build new things like art museums and greenways, this money will be available to help the businesses that we already have to re-open,” Explore Asheville CEO Stephanie Brown said. Brown says the goal is to give businesses up to $50,000 in grant money, they won’t have to pay back.