Business

HB2 could make waves for coastal tourism

Posted May 4, 2016 8:02 p.m. EDT

— Just as it has done across the state, House Bill 2 could soon be dividing coastal communities.

While some North Carolina counties and towns have come out against the law, citing hits to their economies as governments and businesses boycott the state over a lack of discrimination protections for gay and transgender people, many rural communities back the measure.

On the Crystal Coast, the Indian Beach Board of Commissioners sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory to lend their support to him and the General Assembly. The letter doesn't specify House Bill 2, referring only to "your initiatives," but Mayor Stewart Pickett said it was clear why the letter was being sent.

"To us, the so-called 'bathroom bill' is a moral issue, and that's why we took our stand on it," Pickett said Wednesday. "We just felt they needed to know there were people behind them. Nobody – no other town – had done this at the time we did it."

In neighboring Emerald Isle, some businesses have voiced concern about the law.

The Carteret County Tourism Development Authority said Emerald Isle Realty has reported several beach house rentals have been canceled because of House Bill 2. But the tourism authority said they haven't seen a rush of cancelations.

Officials with the real estate company couldn't be reached for comment.

"I do think some people will" cancel vacations, said Elly Devoe, manager of Bert's Surf Shop in Emerald Isle.

Town Manager Frank Rush said, however, that he's expecting a banner year for tourism.

Pickett said he's not worried about fallout from the law.

"There's somebody to take their place," he said. "Of course, we'd be concerned (by any cancelation), and we hope everybody will come."