EXCLUSIVE: Convention Business Already Fleeing San Antonio Due to Proposed 'Bathroom Bill'

The so-called bathroom bill has not even hit a Texas legislative committee and it is already having a negative impact on San Antonio's economy, scaring away conventions and meeting planners that normally love coming to the Riverwalk, News Radio 1200 WOAI has learned.

"We have actually already lost convention and meeting business as a result of SB6, and we know additional losses will come if the bill passes," Ashley Harris, Director of Partner & Government Relations for Visit San Antonio, tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

While she would not say which conventions have turned a cold shoulder to San Antonio, she says they are both very large and small.  

"We also had clients call us and say, 'We are going to closely monitor this bill, and please know that if it passes, we will pull our meeting or convention from your city.'"

The news flies in the face of comments made by the bill's chief backer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who told reporters at a press conference last month that the bill, which would limit transgender bathroom use, would have no impact on the state's economy.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that the passage of Senate Bill 6 will have any economic impact in Texas,” he said.

A report commissioned by the Texas Association of Business found that that the legislation, seen by some as anti-LGBT, could cost the state up to $8.5 billion and thousands of jobs. 

 Harris says the cancellations in San Antonio did not come as a surprise.  

Visit San Antonio has been in contact with their counterparts in North Carolina, where similar legislation was passed last year.  Since then, the NBA pulled an All-Star Game from Charlotte, the NCAA moved seven championships to other cities, high profile musicians canceled concerts, and business expansions were scrapped.  

She was told that, it's not the business they've lost, it's the business they are no longer being considered for that hurts. 

It's a sense of frustration, she says, because San Antonio has long enjoyed a welcoming reputation.

"Any type of bill that does not reflect that goes against who we are."


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