NC coast sees little impact from HB2 on holiday tourism
Posted May 27, 2016
Wrightsville Beach, N.C. — Despite the controversy over House Bill 2 and transgender rights, businesses along the North Carolina coast reported little backlash over the state law on Friday as the Memorial Day holiday weekend kicked off.
Since its passage in March, House Bill 2 has led performers to cancel concerts in North Carolina, caused businesses to put off expansion plans or move conventions elsewhere and sparked nationwide criticism and ridicule of the state.
Connie Nelson, spokeswoman for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, said 28 hotel reservations were canceled at 30 area hotels because of House Bill 2.
"There may be others who cancel and don't express why they're canceling or maybe even make their travel destinations before they ever even reach out," Nelson said. "A lot of times, you can't tell the full impact because of that."
Mary Baggett, the owner of the Blockade Runner hotel in Wrightsville Beach, has been a vocal critic of House Bill 2, which excludes the LGBT community from discrimination protections and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. Baggett has said the law tarnishes North Carolina's brand as a destination, and she wants it repealed.
Baggett was vacationing herself this weekend in the Caribbean and was unavailable to comment, but she said recently that the Blockade Runner has lost business because of House Bill 2, including a Massachusetts couple who told her they would be vacationing "in the more progressive state of South Carolina."
"I just personally think it's rather simple-minded that you would cancel a vacation because a state passes a law," said Neil Greenly, a Blockade Runner guest from Pittsburgh.
"I would still come and do what I want to do where I want to do it," said Dianne Rose, another guest from Nashville, Tenn.
Shell Island Resort, another popular locale for vacationers, is likewise expecting a full house this weekend, employees said.