Texas and national tourism experts decry “bathroom bill” SB6, citing potential multi-billion dollar losses
Professional associations, meeting planners, and Texas convention & visitors bureau unveils new campaign called “Texas Welcomes All”
Austin, Texas –January 11, 2017- A coalition of Texas Convention and Visitors Bureaus including VisitDallas, San Antonio, Austin, Arlington, and Fort Worth, joined by leaders from the Professional Convention Management Association, the American Society of Association Executives, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, and TechNet, announced strong opposition to SB6 and other discriminatory legislation, and unveiled the “Texas Welcomes All” campaign to encourage an inclusive and welcoming Lone Star State.
SB6, the “bathroom bill” branded the “Texas Privacy Act” by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was introduced by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) to legislate discrimination against transgender adults and children. The bill would restrict access to bathrooms by transgender people, and would nullify ordinances that protect against discrimination in public accommodations. Inclusive cities with transgender-inclusive public accommodations policies would lose those protections.
“Discrimination of any kind is wrong. If passed, this legislation will have devastating consequences on our economy and would result in our local government losing its control over ensuring Dallas is a welcoming city to all. Rather than let each Texas city determine its own community values, this legislation would essentially pre-empt Texas from doing business by bypassing every city’s own social values to conform to one state standard,” said Phillip Jones, President & CEO, VisitDallas.
The Texas Welcomes All coalition supports diverse and inclusive conventions, meetings, sports and tourism markets. City leaders in Dallas and other cities have consistently supported non-discrimination for decades.
If the legislation is passed, it is estimated to result in a short-term GDP loss of $8.5 billion annually statewide due to lost travel and tourism revenues, and it would put an estimated 185,000 jobs at risk in Texas. Travel and tourism would be significantly impacted.
“Restroom laws are one of the top policy deterrent for planning conventions, conferences and meetings,” said Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association. “Know that our industry holds 1.83 million meetings annually and brings $28 billion in U.S. federal, state and local taxes annually; with more than $280 billion in annual U.S. direct spending spurred by our sector. Should SB6 be signed into law, you ensure Texas’s future percentage of these taxes and spending will exponentially be reduced.”
“ASAE opposes any legislation that permits or even gives the appearance of tolerating discrimination,” said John Graham, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives. “Similar to other bills of this type that we have seen proliferate across the country, Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory in that it is squarely aimed at denying public accommodations to members of the LGBTQ community. It also prohibits municipalities from passing their own inclusive public accommodation policies. Not only would this bill harm Texas’s reputation as a welcoming state, it would very likely have severe economic consequences in the form of lost jobs, investments and event bookings throughout the state. ASAE is committed to working with our members, convention and visitor bureaus and hospitality partners in Texas to address legislators’ concerns while keeping Texas open and accessible for all.
“The Texas Privacy Act is a piece of legislation that is discriminatory and sends a message that Texas is unwelcoming,” stated Tom Noonan, President & CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Moreover, the passing of this bill or any other bathroom bill, will have a huge financial impact to our state with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. We’re asking other convention and visitor bureau leadership to join our coalition to keep Texas open for business and welcoming to all.”
Texas tourism data:
- Direct travel spending: $68.7 billion
- More than 50% generated by outside visitors
- State & local taxes: $6.2 billion
- Jobs: 647,900
- Jobs supported by re-spending of travel-related revenues: 487,500
- GDP: $33.5 billion (second only to oil & gas production