Visitors bureau says tourists boycotting Asheville over HB2

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
House Bill 2

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Tourists from as far as Canada have contacted the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau saying they are canceling vacations and plans to retire in Asheville because of HB2 - otherwise known as the bathroom bill.

"What we've been seeing falls into a couple of categories," Stephanie Brown, director of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said. "Some concerns for safety, but primarily people are expressing a statement about not wanting to spend money in North Carolina."

WLOS reports that Brown said the Bureau has received upwards of 55 emails.

One Ohio man wrote: "I'm sad. A group of 8 craft beer enthusiasts had a trip planned to Asheville the mecca of craft beer. However, one of us is gay. Our group decided last night to scrap the trip. We are going to San Diego instead."

Through a Freedom of Information request, WLOS obtained numerous emails that were sent.

One tourist planning a trip to Asheville emailed the CVB writing "We are from Wisconsin ... because of HB2 we will drive straight through."

Another wrote, "we feel it un-American to spend our money in your state."

Brown said she responded to every email and many who received her emails back felt her response was polite and thoughtful.

But it's tourism season in Asheville. Tuesday at the CVB, there was a steady stream of tourists like Walter Hammond and his wife from upstate New York. He's aware of HB2, but he said he never considered canceling his plans to visit the area this week.

"I'm not actually in favor of the law personally," said Hammond. "I'm going to see the scenery, drink a couple beers and relax."

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