Conventions pulling out of Charlotte, citing House Bill 2
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Controversy over North Carolina's new law blocking anti-discrimination rules covering the LGBT community has made national headlines and now the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) says conventions are pulling out of Charlotte.
The CRVA says four conventions that were booked in Charlotte have now canceled the event in the Queen City over House Bill 2. WBTV broke the story Friday afternoon after a source gave WBTV's Molly Grantham the information. The CRVA later confirmed the numbers.
HB2 repealed Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance, which was passed in February. The Charlotte City Council voted 7-4 to add sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status as attributes protected from discrimination when it comes to public accommodations including restaurants, retail stores and other businesses. Public schools would not have been affected by the ordinance.
The ordinance quickly became controversial with the majority of the focus revolving around the bathroom.
Republican leaders in North Carolina, including Governor Pat McCrory, expressed concern over the ordinance. A special session of the North Carolina General Assembly was held in late March.
In a one-day vote, the NCGA repealed the Charlotte ordinance, which was slated to take effect on April 1.
The new law requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also makes clear local measures can't expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the CRVA, four conventions have officially canceled their dates in Charlotte, citing House Bill 2. Officials say that translates to 1,137 room nights gone for hotels in Charlotte.
On top of the four canceled conventions, nine other conventions who were looking at Charlotte are saying they will no longer be looking at the city to be the host. That's considered a "lost opportunity" and translates into a potential 12,231 room nights not used.
WBTV also learned that 29 other groups have now said they are "hesitant" about bringing their convention to Charlotte. If all these groups pulled out, that's 89,723 room nights that will be lost.
The CRVA referred WBTV to a statement it released last week on House Bill 2:
"We are extremely concerned about the state legislation in place as we continue to hear negative feedback and potential event cancellations from our customers. Our city has worked incredibly hard to build a thriving visitor economy over the last 20 years, which has welcomed major events and conventions that greatly give back to the city and the state of North Carolina's economy and overall quality of life. This issue is in danger of setting us back from the progress we've made in positioning Charlotte as an attractive, inclusive destination. Our city has long had a track record of creating an environment that not only values diversity, but strongly embraces it. On behalf of the visitor economy that represents one in nine jobs across the Charlotte region, we strongly urge that state and local leaders find a resolution that represents the best interests of our city and state."
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