(Paul Chesser, Liberty Headlines) The evidence was made clear in May — that the since-repealed House Bill 2 (the “transgender bathroom law”) may have helped boost an increase in tourism to North Carolina, despite fake media reports to the contrary.
Even more statistics revealed on Monday reinforce that premise. According to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, tourism reached an all-time high in Wake County, which is home to the state Capitol and its second-largest city, as well as Cary, the seventh-largest municipality in the Tar Heel State. The county saw 15.6 million visitors during 2016 — the year in which HB2 was enacted and stood as law for 3/4 of the year — which represented an increase of 3.5 percent over 2015. The growth in popularity of the region (and the state overall) as a tourist destination exploded despite national attacks from media organizations, celebrities, sports figures and corporations, because of the state’s requirement for individuals to use public restrooms according to the gender designated on their birth certificates, rather than their “gender identity.”
“Tourists spend their money in states and cities where they know their families will be safe,” said Tami Fitzgerald, director of the North Carolina Values Coalition. “This report constitutes evidence that North Carolina’s commonsense privacy law—HB2—helped tourism, instead of hurting it.”
The findings reported by GRCVB follow the May announcement from the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce that the amount of visitor spending statewide in 2016 blew out the record that was set in 2015. Tourism-generated dollars for 2016 totaled $22.9 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent over the previous year.
As for Wake County, even though GRCVB tried to make a giant case over the HB2 controversy last year, saying it would hurt tourism, the organization did not mention the likely beneficial impact of the law in its press release on Monday.
“These numbers show that despite growing competition in the marketplace, Raleigh and Wake County continue to rise as a destination of choice amongst visitors,” said Denny Edwards, president and CEO of the GRCVB. “Tourism is a growing economic driver in the community and the ‘visitor economy’ as we call it continues to thrive and support more jobs and generate more local tax revenue than ever before. Every sector of the hospitality community from our hotels and restaurants, attractions and retail stores benefit from the influx of outside money being spent in our area by visitors annually.”
GRCVB also reported that travelers to Wake County spent $2.4 billion in 2016, an increase of 4.2 percent over 2015. The area also saw a 4.5 percent year-over-year increase in area hotels’ average daily rate (to $100.85), while lodging tax collections totaled $24.2 million, up 8.4 percent year-over-year, and prepared food and beverage collections rose 6.5 percent in 2016, amounting to $26.9 million.
While Edwards ignored the potential effects HB2 had on county visitor statistics in GRCVB’s press release on Monday, last year he didn’t waste any time driving the fake “bad for tourism” narrative. Without taking into account or researching any evidence other than a few event cancellations, Edwards told the Charlotte Observer only a month after the law’s passage that six events had been cancelled at a cost of $3.1 million to the Raleigh area.
“We continue to receive concerns from definite and tentative groups regarding HB2,” Edwards told the newspaper in April 2016. “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 unfounded storyline continued through the end of 2016. By then GRCVB told media that Wake County had lost 24 meetings, conventions and sporting events due to the law, at an estimated impact of $8.5 million to the region. Ominously, one entertainment promoter said many more performing acts would reject North Carolina without anyone ever knowing.
“They’ll just decide to play Virginia or South Carolina and kind of just quietly bypass us,” said Dave Rose, of Deep South Entertainment, to WTVD-TV in Raleigh.
But in the eyes of the major media and promoters of public events and conventions, the “silent” tourist responses to HB2 only mattered if they rejected the state. No one bothered to consider if any vacationers “silently” decided to come to North Carolina because they could trust that public restrooms weren’t legally protecting the presence of the opposite gender.
“Arguments by LGBTQ activists groups saying sexual orientation and gender identity ordinances are good for business have always been a ruse,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “There are a number of studies that have shown states without these classifications do better economically than states that do. Actually, such classifications are not a determination either of low growth or prosperity, but gay rights organizations want you to believe they are an economic necessity.”