The Catawba Falls trail is closed until spring of 2023. Click here to find alternative waterfall and hiking trails.

What is the Tourism Development Authority?

What is a tourism development authority and what does it do? In North Carolina, occupancy tax legislation was created as an economic development tool with specific legislation designed for individual counties. Occupancy tax is paid by lodging property overnight guests. For McDowell County, it is a 5% tax added to your nightly bill.

Since its inception in 1983, county's have requested their own occupancy tax legislation. This did not happen all at one time. County bills are unique, each county's legislative bill was individually drafted and over time, the legislation and revenue use guidelines have evolved.

In 1985, the N.C. Legislature passed a bill creating the McDowell County Tourism Development Authority. The bill defines how the organization will operate, following state and county guidelines. In 2007, the bill was amended and since then, no new legislation has been presented or approved.

The Authority and McDowell County Government entered into a local agreement with the Authority operating as a self-funded department under the county government's umbrella of operations. The county collects monthly occupancy tax revenue. According to legislation, the county is paid a percentage of this revenue to cover operating expenses and the balance is used by the Authority to promote the county as a tourism destination.

If you own a lodging property, you or your management organization collect the 5% occupancy tax and remit those funds to the McDowell County Finance Department. The form used for reporting is here. Occupancy Tax Remittance Form

The Authority's work includes, but is not limited to, operating a visitor center in downtown Old Fort, NC, creating and distributing promotional print materials, creating and executing advertising campaigns, managing a website, and social media accounts. The website includes an event calendar. To submit a tourism-related event, email us. [email protected]

Recent work includes the tourism authority's investment in the creation of a countywide, tourism-focused economic development plan identifying existing projects for growth, improvement, etc., that plan is available here. Each year, the Authority approves related expenditures with funds used to match grants and other sources of project revenue.

Destination McDowell - Planning For The Future

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