TDA has equal parts Maggie Valley, Waynesville

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners have appointed two new members to the Tourism Development Authority board: Deborah Reed, a leader of the Canton merchant’s association FOCUS, and Art O’Neil, owner of Sunset Inn, Sunset Bakery and Sunset Café at Lake Junaluska, and Sunset on Main restaurant in downtown Waynesville.


Ken Stahl, owner of the Super 8 in Waynesville, was reappointed to his seat.

Both Reed and O’Neil replaced out-going board members from Maggie Valley. For the first time in recent history, and possibly ever, tourism interests in Maggie Valley and Waynesville are equally represented on the tourism board with four members from each locale.

Maggie Valley has traditionally dominated the tourism board, a reflection of its dominance in the local tourism industry. But a shift in recent years — the temporary closure of Ghost Town in Maggie Valley on one hand and the success of downtown Waynesville on the other — is moving Waynesville toward being an equal player in the Haywood County tourism arena as Maggie Valley.

Meanwhile, Reed is the first representative on the tourism development board from the Canton and Bethel area in a long time. Reed has applied for a seat on the board twice before but was not appointed. By-laws of the tourism development authority require board members to be affiliated with a tourism related business. Despite her active involvement and leadership in the Canton business community group, she is not involved in a tourism-related business.

This time commissioners overlooked that detail to appoint her. Lack of representation from the greater Canton area was a major complaint that cropped up during a series of task force meetings last year that examined ways to improve the tourism development authority.

A record number of applicants had applied for seats on the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, likely spurred by the ongoing tug of war over the best way to spend $650,000 annually in tourism promotion dollars.

There were 17 applicants for three seats. Several applicants withdrew their names, however.

— By Becky Johnson

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