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Frommer’s Tourism Guide: You’ve got the wrong idea about Asheville

Frommer’s Tourism Guide: You’ve got the wrong idea about Asheville

Asheville has been making top 10 lists for years, driving tourists to our fair city in droves. As much as the locals complain about tourist season, people understand that tourism dollars are a crucial part of Asheville’s annual budget. It always makes us feel warm fuzzes inside seeing the city we love top another list. When the reasons for being added to the list are grossly misleading, however, it can make those warm fuzzies turn into seeds of rage.

Last week on a New Year’s Day appearance on Good Morning America, the owner of national travel guide Pauline Frommer got it all wrong when addressing the audience of Good Morning America during her segment. Frommer informed viewers that one of her organization selected Asheville to appear on the 2015 top destinations to travel list, was “because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths. It’s just a great place to go. It has the most breweries per capita, so always a party.”

New Belgium only has recently started construction on their grounds, and has been met with skepticism from some area residents, alongside of the enthusiastic warm welcome that Asheville naturally offers. For a new entity that won’t be opening doors until 2016 to be unfairly credited with the revitalization of the River Arts District (RAD), is enough to turn residents sour. Our River Arts District has a rich history, and has been undergoing positive changes and revitalization for a number of years, turning it into an artist oasis.

The Western North Carolina Farmers Market was first opened in 1977, long before Asheville had ever dreamed that a brewery like New Belgium would be coming to town. A few locals we talked to about the ‘sketchiness’ of the River Arts District expressed dismay at the thought, noting that the area has been undergoing positive changes for well over 10 years, and that locals have not, in recent memory, associated the word ‘sketchy’ with our beloved RAD. So, one naturally wonders: where does the information like this come from? We approached our contact at New Belgium Brewery to get their thoughts about the Frommer segment.

We spoke with Susanne Hackett, New Belgium Community and Media Relations Specialist and a proud nine year resident of West Asheville to find out more. Susanne assured us that New Belgium did not source this story, nor were they even aware of their involvement in this story.

“It’s absolutely inaccurate for Frommer’s to credit New Belgium for the awesomeness of the River Arts District. We did not source this story and were not contacted by anyone regarding our inclusion in it or to fact check.”

“Our brewery is being built in West Asheville, across the river from the RAD. We do support strong bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and have given a section of our property to the City to develop a public greenway, as well as gave an easement onto our property to improve Craven Street into a complete street. It takes and has taken a village. We are a new member of the village and are working to do our part, just a part.”

The disparity between reported facts and the true story is what makes us here at AshevilleBlog sometimes hold our heads in agony. It is one reason why our staff takes the time to approach all parties involved, and get as much of the full story as possible. We recognize that while some people are hesitant to hop on the New Belgium bandwagon, we ask that our readers don’t use Pauline Frommer’s ill spoken words to judge the RAD, or New Belgium.

If you are looking for ways to support RAD, or stay on top of the latest happenings, check out the River Arts District website: www.RiverArtsDistrict.com. If you are interested in donating time or money to a River Arts related cause, RiverLink is a nonprofit that works on revitalizing the French Broad River. Riverlink has poured years of work into the RAD, and continually supports the artists and businesses that reside in that area. Find out more about Riverlink here: http://riverlink.org

Asheville readily embraced the ‘cesspool of sin’ slogan. Perhaps we can vow to ‘keep Asheville sketchy’, as well.

Watch the video of the Frommer segment below:


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  1. constance@constancefineart.com'

    GREAT clarification- we artists at River Arts District thank you!
    GOOD writing too!
    Frommers – who I thought offered CORRECT info on travel really blew it with this one.
    Not only did they NOT contact us– nobody here on the RADA board or our coordinator; they didn’t contact the Chamber OR New Belgium Asheville!
    New Belgium AVL came to our defense real quick (as did awesome FANS of RAD) on Twitter.
    NBA also sent us a GREAT LETTER to our membership and they want to know where the story was sourced as they do not want incorrect information OUT THERE.
    My guess is the Frommers chick took a cab ride through the district on a rainy Sunday night!

    “Still SKETCHY” t-shirts now available in West Asheville! Picking mine up on way to my 352 Depot St studio later today! Ha!

  2. constance@constancefineart.com'

    YOU ROCK!!! TY!!!!
    THANK YOU for correcting!!!!

  3. Ha – that is perfectly OK! When I first read it I figured that you had left it by mistake. It started my day off with a giggle, so thank you!

  4. Hi Constance – thanks for clarifying the link for me! I have updated the link as requested 🙂

  5. Hi Han,

    Actually we do have a contact in to Frommers, but they are not as approachable as New Belgium was. We actually put off publishing this article in hopes that they would respond, but they did not. I did receive a generic response from them in which I requested they clarify several points. As soon as I get any information from them, a follow up will be posted.

  6. hangalen7@gmail.com'

    I wish the author called Frommers! A public clarification by the tourism company would be appropriate.

  7. constance@constancefineart.com'
    Constance vlahoulis

    Hi AB!
    Your article was great until you got to our RADA (Asheville River Arts District Artists).
    Our official website is:

    Hope you can just make a quick change to your article so we do not miss communique from others.
    You can verify this also via the AVL Chamber and or through
    Julia Fosson, our new President.
    We have a number of committees and I am on the Marketing Committee.
    Our membership is at about 180.

    If you have any questions, Julia will be happy to help!
    Thanks again!
    Constance Vlahoulis
    352 Depot St Fine Art Studio
    RADA Member

  8. woofey@cybermesa.com'

    Sorry – my mistake. I didn’t realize I was still on your blog. I meant for my reply to be posted on the Good Morning America site. In other words – you don’t have to publish my comment, as it’s directed at the Frommer’s woman. I will try to leave a comment there. 🙂

  9. woofey@cybermesa.com'

    Wow. Your information re. Asheville and New Belgium is completely inaccurate. I live in Asheville, and not only is your report untrue, it’s insulting to those of us who live in here. Please do real research and refrain from making things up. Thanks.