National Leaders from Top National Organizations Including PCMA, ASAE, IAEE, and Technology Employers Join Coalition of Texas CVBs to Speak Out Against Lt. Governor's Bathroom Bill and to Unveil a New Campaign Called Texas Welcomes All

Texas Welcomes All

Austin, Texas –January 11, 2017- A coalition of Texas Convention and Visitors Bureaus including VisitDallas, San Antonio, Austin, Arlington, Fort Worth and other convention and visitors bureaus in Texas and leaders from the Professional Convention Management Association, the American Society of Association Executives, International Association of Exhibitions and Events and TechNet, the leading technology trade group in Texas, joined together to form "Texas Welcomes All" to oppose the "Privacy Protection Act" and any other discriminatory legislation.   

SB 6 was introduced by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) to legislate discrimination against transgender people. The bill would prohibit any local government from adopting or enforcing an ordinance that relates to the use of a private entity's bathroom or changing facility – essentially nullifying ordinances that protect against discrimination in public accommodations. Inclusive cities with transgender-inclusive public accommodations policies would lose those protections.

Nearly 1,200 Texas employers, including 41 Fortune 500 companies, 21 Texas chambers of commerce, most of the major airlines and hotels, and many CVBs are all united in saying that there is significant economic risk in Texas being hostile to LGBT people – and that protecting Texas' competitiveness costs us nothing at all.  The group called passage of the Lt. Governor's bathroom bill an unnecessary multi-billion-dollar disaster for the Texas economy, Texas tourism, Texas Visitors and Convention Visitors Bureaus and cities across Texas.

"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 keep the status quo and 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.  Cities leaders in Dallas and other cities have consistently supported non-discrimination for decades.  The coalition partners in the hospitality industry work to generate economic impact for Texas through events and tourism.   

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 travel and tourism jobs at risk in Texas. Travel and tourism would be significantly impacted. As seen in North Carolina, Texas can expect cancellations from major performing artists, sporting events and business conventions and meetings if this legislation passes. Fifty-three percent of meeting planners say they have already avoided destinations that prevent 'universal restroom use.

"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 (ASAE). "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

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