Bathroom Bill Boycott Did Little to Deter N.C. Tourism

‘Lawmakers replaced a bad bill with another bad bill. This fake repeal is an attempt to silence LGBT people…’

Blame Building Codes for the Bathroom Wars(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) The state of North Carolina achieved record visitor spending in the year 2017, according to a report from WITN.

North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland confirmed the numbers on Thursday. Visitor spending increased in all 100 counties.

Visit North Carolina commissioned the U.S. Travel Association to conduct the study, which used a variety of economic data, including sales and tax revenues, to determine the level of visitor spending in each county.

The increase in spending ought to perplex many who were certain that the impact of the perceived anti-transgender legislation House Bill 2 would cut into the numbers. The report shows that the impact of the bill on tourism was overstated, since the legislation was only partially repealed last March, well into the start of the year.

The partial repeal, which included a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020 while delegating regulation of bathroom use to the state legislature, did nothing to assuage angry LGBT activists, who blasted the measure as a “fake repeal.”

If the data is any indication, most Americans do not share in their anger toward the state. Visitor spending reached over a billion dollars in the counties of Mecklenburg (Charlotte), Wake (Raleigh), Guilford (Greensboro), Buncombe (Asheville) and Dare (Nags Head).

According to the article, visitors spent almost $24 billion across the state last year, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2016. Expenditures from the billions in tourist spending directly supported more than 200,000 jobs and generated more than $6 billion in income for state residents.

North Carolina’s continued success story in attracting tourists is a continuation from 2016, when visitor spending hit yet another record, despite the “bathroom bill” being in full force.

The bill was passed in March of that year as a response to a Charlotte ordinance that permitted the use of bathrooms in accordance with one’s “gender identity.” Republicans said the resulting legislation was an attempt to address privacy concerns and protect the safety of women and children in public accommodations.

After the partial repeal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal continued to lambast the state government.

“This is not a repeal of HB 2,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project. “North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians.”

And Simone Bell, Southern regional director at Lambda Legal, said this: “Lawmakers replaced a bad bill with another bad bill. This fake repeal is an attempt to silence LGBT people.”

Since the repeal, furor over the legislation has died down considerably.

And while no other state has followed North Carolina’s example and ventured into “bathroom bill” territory, the data suggests that such legislation is unlikely to negatively affect visitor spending. If anything, the surveys from the past two years indicate that tourism dollars are likely to increase – defying the narrative that socially conservative legislation of this nature causes economic harm.