Tourism & Convention Leaders Warns Anti Trans Bill Would Devastate Texas’ Economy

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-1-27-17-pmWASHINGTON – Prominent officials from the tourism, convention and meeting planning industries gathered in Austin today to warn Texas lawmakers that SB 6, the discriminatory bill mirroring North Carolina’s HB 2 law, would damage the Lone Star State’s economy and brand. SB 6 bans transgender people from using restrooms in public schools, universities, and government buildings. The proposal, which Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is pushing aggressively, also eradicates the freedom of local municipalities to protect transgender people from discrimination in public restrooms. 

Representatives from convention and visitors’ bureaus in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Arlington, and Fort Worth were among those speaking out against SB 6 today. Those officials were joined in opposition by the Professional Convention Management Association, the American Society of Association Executives, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, and TechNet.

“Businesses in Texas aren’t just throwing up red flags over SB 6 – they’re sending explicit messages, with increasing frequency, that this discriminatory measure will fundamentally harm Texas’ economy,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans’ executive director. “Lawmakers in North Carolina ignored similar warning signs, and the state has experienced unprecedented economic backlash as a result. Businesses speaking out against this proposal are the ones who enrich communities, provide good jobs, and help strengthen Texas’ reputation. Dan Patrick and his allies in the legislature should take their advice and avoid economic catastrophe.”

A large number of businesses already have spoken out against SB 6, which was filed just last Thursday. Dow Chemical, SXSW, VisitDallas, the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault all have voiced opposition to SB 6. The Texas Association of Business, which late last year warned that bills like SB 6 could cost Texas $8.5 billion in lost revenue and nearly 200,000 jobs, has launched the Keep Texas Open for Business coalition. That coalition includes major organizations and entities like Dow Chemical, Apple, IBM, SXSW, Intel, VisitDallas, Celanese, GSD&M, and HP. In a statement last week, Keep Texas Open for Business called SB 6 “discriminatory, anti-business, and unnecessary legislation that is poised to have an immediate and detrimental impact on Texas’ economy.”

The stakes are high for Texans who work in or depend on the travel and tourism industry. Business leaders at today’s press event reported that Texas reaps nearly $69 billion annually in direct travel spending, with a GDP of $33.5 billion – second only to the oil and gas industry. State and local tax revenues from tourism clock in at about $6.2 billion annually, and about 648,000 jobs are tied directly to the industry. 

Freedom for All Americans is working with our partners at Keep Texas Open for Business and Texas Competes to stop discriminatory bills from advancing in the Lone Star State. More than 1,100 businesses big and small have signed the Texas Competes pledge so far, affirming their support for a Texas that remains economically competitive and vibrant.

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