PHOENIX — An Arizona tourism leader is worried about the damage a bill allowing businesses to deny services to gays and others based on religion could cause.
Kristen Jarnagin, senior vice president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, said businesses are “gravely concerned” about the possible unintended consequences of the bill, and that could be an understatement.
“There’s concern especially as we’re gearing up to host the Super Bowl next year,” she said. “Our convention and visitor bureaus are getting calls, not only canceling their current trips, but threatening to never return. We definitely fear loss of conventions. There’s so much competition for tourism dollars that anything controversial that we are doing plays a negative role in the ability to attract visitors.”
Despite the bill not yet being signed into law, Jarnagin said her agency has received “dozens” of emails stating people would not be coming to Arizona purely because the state came up with this bill in the first place.
“Any time Arizona is publicized again for controversial reasons, people shy away from our state,” she said.
Jarnagin said the bill is not desired by the business community.
“I don’t know, from the business side of things, where the motivation is coming from,” she said.
Some may take the stance that tourism is not needed in Arizona’s economy, but Jarnagin called that a fool’s assumption.
“About 200,000 jobs in this state are directly tied to tourism and what that equates to…is $19.3 billion annually in spending, and, if still doesn’t resonate with you, the trickle-down effect is about $2.6 billion just in tax revenue.”
Jarnagin had some facts for Brewer that may sway her to veto the bill.
“We have a couple major hotel projects — one that could be about 1,000 jobs — we also have some major events that are shovel-in-the-ground ready to select Arizona that have told us, if those goes through, those are completely in jeopardy,” she said. “We know there is real business to be lost because of this.”
Jarnagin said she was surprised the Legislature pursued the bill, considering they have been supportive of laws that encourage growth and tourism in Arizona over the past few years.
Phoenix business owner Nohl Rosen said he has also received threats by customers to boycott his computer repair company if the bill becomes law.
The bill is expected to reach Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk on Monday. She would have until the close of business Saturday to veto or sign it into law.
Brewer doesn’t comment on pending legislation, but she vetoed a similar measure last year. That action, however, came during an unrelated political standoff, and it’s not clear whether she would support or reject this plan.
Arizona lost millions of dollars in tourism and convention revenue after the Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law.
KTAR’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food