FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The following statement should be attributed to Jessica Shortall, Managing Director of Texas Competes:
The recent decision by California to prohibit state travel to Texas, as a result of the new HB 3859 law allowing taxpayer-funded child welfare organizations to decline service to LGBT individuals and others, is further confirmation that a discriminatory state brand creates unnecessary risk for the Texas economy.
The 2016 California travel prohibition to North Carolina, due to the state’s HB 2 “bathroom bill,” resulted in the relocation of at least one meeting – a tobacco control research conference – because California state employees were unable to travel to the state. Chapel Hill hotels lost $15,000 in revenue as a result of that cancellation. Every such cancellation, big or small, translates into lost hours for employees, lost hotel occupancy tax revenues, and lost spending in local businesses.
In Texas, we have concerns about the California travel prohibition’s impacts on future meetings, conventions, and sporting events – the latter because the California law, AB 1887, applies to the University of California and California State University systems. We are hopeful that some post-season sporting events might be exempted. However, we are concerned about scheduled and future “home-and-home” and non-conference games across all sports, and the multi-million-dollar economic impacts those games create. We are also concerned about the viability of California coach recruiting trips to Texas.
Tourism is Texas’ second-largest industry. Half of our tourism revenue comes from outside visitors. Losses in this industry have real impacts on Texans, with ripple effects felt by small businesses, workers, and local and state budgets. To ignore or belittle the risks to this industry is to ignore both the health of the state budget and the countless small businesses and families that rely on a thriving tourism economy to stay afloat.
What is clear, and what has been clear for some time, is that a discriminatory brand creates significant and unnecessary economic risk for the state of Texas. Texas Competes will continue to call for a welcoming, inclusive state as a matter of economic competitiveness and long-term health.
Texas Competes is a public education-focused coalition of more than 1,300 Texas employers, chambers of commerce, and convention & visitors bureaus making the economic case that Texas must be welcoming to LGBT people.