HB2 Costing North Carolina Business, Convention Bureaus Warn

Two major convention groups say that event planners have taken steps to move their events from North Carolina in response to the state's controversial LGBT law. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau says it has lost $3.1 million in event business in its portion of the state alone.

It’s not just Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam announcing cancellations of events over North Carolina’s controversial LGBT law.

House Bill 2—known as HB2, which critics say allows discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender residents—is also leading a number of associations and industry groups to cancel their events in the state. Among those that have cancelled is the Community Transportation Association of America, which was to hold its 2018 annual meeting in the Raleigh region.

The decision by the group to move its meeting to Baltimore costs North Carolina an event that was anticipated to bring 1,000 people to the state and more than $1.7 million in revenue.

Combined, says the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the passage of HB2 has cost the area $3.1 million in event revenue that would have been generated over the next few years. GRCVB President and CEO Dennis Edwards says that other groups are also raising concerns.

“We continue to receive concerns from definite and tentative groups regarding HB2,” Edwards told the Raleigh News & Observer this week. “We also have a great deal of concern about those groups that were going to consider Raleigh and North Carolina but have now taken us off of their list of consideration due to the bill.”

The group says up to $28 million in potential spending could be lost in the Raleigh area alone, and at least seven events considering Raleigh as a host city could end up going elsewhere because of the law.

Despite the issues raised by GRCVB, legislators who support the law say that they’re not concerned about the lost business reported so far.

“In many instances when you have dates open up, you have other groups interested in coming in and taking those dates,” Republican State Rep. Nelson Dollar, who hails from nearby Cary, told the News & Observer.

GRCVB isn’t alone in reporting the law’s negative effects. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority reported earlier this month that four conventions have been cancelled in direct response to the controversial law, which was itself passed in response a local ordinance by Charlotte’s city council.

But at least one group, the American Society of Interior Designers, ended up attending an event in the state this month, though it launched a campaign against the law before participating in the semiannual High Point Market.

ASAE was among the many groups that spoke out against the law’s passage last month, with the group warning that “these types of laws could also cause serious harm to the meetings and conventions business in any state that adopts them.”

Protesters shown in Asheville, North Carolina earlier this month. (iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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