Updated: HB2 costs Asheville $1.6 million in lost bookings so far, says CVB

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority met on April 27; CVB staff reported on HB2 impacts felt to date in local tourism industry. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Between the nine group events that have canceled planned stays in Asheville since the state General Assembly passed House Bill 2 on March 23, and the six others that have withdrawn proposals to come to town, local lodging businesses have lost nearly 5,000 room nights of bookings and at least $1.6 million in direct revenues. That was the assessment the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Dianna Pierce presented to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority at its regular monthly meeting on April 27.

Those losses, Pierce explained, don’t include indirect revenues like outside meals, transportation, taxes and retail sales. And they don’t capture groups that may have crossed Asheville off a list of potential venues without notifying the CVB.

The CVB, she continued, is working with about eight groups who are questioning whether to go ahead with plans to meet in Asheville. To aid in the effort to retain those visitors and others, the CVB is creating a new webpage, messaging and a promotional video that the bureau can provide to meeting organizers and individuals.

The new video, which does not specifically mention HB2, is “consistent with Asheville’s brand promise” as a community which embraces all visitors, CVB Executive Director Stephanie Pace Brown explained. Local leaders including Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair David Gantt are featured alongside local scenes and attractions. Brown, along with Vice President of Marketing Marla Tambellini, stressed that the video was designed to be “evergreen,” meaning it will be a useful tool regardless of the fate of HB2.

Tambellini outlined the impact of HB2-related concerns on the CVB’s marketing plans. Online, she said, some targeted advertising has been reallocated to make sure it doesn’t appear in conjunction with editorial coverage of the controversial law. Planned movie theater ads slated to appear in Atlanta-area theaters have been delayed to give media coverage “a chance to die down,” she said.

Public relations efforts directed toward media outlets have been affected by HB2, Tambellini continued. An upcoming media tour in Ohio was scaled back when publications which had shown interest in Asheville stories stopped responding to calls. It’s not surprising, she said, that “the media is reluctant to showcase a destination in a state that is getting so much negative media attention.”

A version of the new “welcome” video targeted toward individual travelers is also in the works, Tambellini reported.


Update, April 27, 2016 at 5:18 p.m.

The CVB announced the launch of the new website and video in a press release:

ASHEVILLE, NC (April 27, 2016) – The Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB)  launched a web page today to provide information and tools to meeting planners and their attendees to retain group bookings and attendance. The site includes a letter from the ACVB, a welcome video, the Asheville brand promise and additional links that could be useful in retaining group business.

”Our intention is to underscore that Asheville is a warm and welcoming community,” said ACVB Executive Director Stephanie Brown, noting that all of the elements of the site are designed to provide a deeper understanding of the destination.  “We recognize that many potential visitors and meeting attendees may not know us very well and we wanted to better convey the spirit of Asheville and encourage visitation and meeting attendance.”

The video features welcome messages from Brown, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and Buncombe County Commission Chairman David Gantt.  The video and letter will also be shared with tourism partners so they, in turn, can use these to help with their business efforts, Brown said.

A similar effort planned for leisure travelers will include a separate video built around the Asheville destination brand promise and will be accompanied by a social campaign.

Asheville tourism businesses are experiencing some travel and group business cancellations since passage of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, referred to as HB2, but Brown also noted the newly developed pieces are evergreen tools that allow all customers to get to know the region.

An important economic generator for the local economy, the tourism sector supports 25,000 jobs in Buncombe County, according to a study by Tourism Economics, a subsidiary of Oxford Economics.  Each year, Buncombe County welcomes 3.3 million overnight guests, providing a customer base that assists in the sustainability of businesses in the community and contributes to tax revenues.  Annually, tourism generates $1.7 billion in direct spending and a $2.6 billion economic impact to the region.



About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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31 thoughts on “Updated: HB2 costs Asheville $1.6 million in lost bookings so far, says CVB

  1. NFB

    I’m sure the fact that the Asheville Chamber of Commerce has taken a neutral stand on HB2 isn’t exactly helping.

    • bsummers

      If that’s true, you’re right. If they really want to stem the tide of people turning their backs on Asheville, come right out & say “Hey, we’re against HB2, too. Come here & we’ll donate part of the proceeds to HRC or EqualityNC,” etc.

    • “I’m sure the fact that the Asheville Chamber of Commerce has taken a neutral stand on HB2 isn’t exactly helping.”

      The Asheville Chamber of Commerce should come out unequivocally in support of HB2. It is good law, will not be repealed, strengthens right-to-work laws, is good for business and jobs, clarifies the proper authority of the State, is consistent with federal law, and will find overwhelming support if put up for a vote of the public.

      • Fishbone

        “is good for business and jobs”

        Hey Tim, the title of this article is “Updated: HB2 costs Asheville $1.6 million in lost bookings so far, says CVB.” I think you wandered into the wrong discussion.

          • Fishbone

            From the article: “Regardless of one’s opinion on HB 2, it cannot overshadow or remotely counteract what North Carolina has done legislatively over the LAST FIVE YEARS to become one of the most attractive places in the country to do business, invest, live, raise a family, and retire.” What exactly does this have to do with your assertions regarding HB2 GOING FORWARD?

          • Really now. The state economy is finally making a comeback after decades of Democrat abuses. The future looks bright and businesses know it. Welcome to North Carolina.

          • Fishbone

            Hey Tim, can you please show causation that HB2 specifically is strengthening these gains? Or will? Since you made the claim I expect to be provided with some data relating to that Even though the law has been on the books for what, 2 months? You know it’s good for business already–You made the claim. I can at least point to anecdotal evidence (this article) that HB2 is damaging the state economy. You’re making this about partisanship unnecessarily in your previous comments . Where does this comment go on your blog?

          • HB2 is good for business prima facie, it strengthens right-to-work laws and has the support of the Chamber. They know best what’s good for business, jobs and the future of the economy. Indicators in these areas are lagging. I’m willing to wait. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our bright future together. Time to get out of the progressive cocoon and breathe free.

          • Huhsure

            ‘I have no evidence, but _libertarian talking point here_’.

            Is that an argument, Tex?

          • Peter Robbins

            Good law, despite what the Fourth Circuit says. Good business, despite what the Convention and Visitors Bureau says. Fresh air to breathe, despite the smoke drifting over from Hot Springs. What doesn’t convince?

          • “Is that an argument, Tex?”

            Oh. Good. Another progressive voice added to the conversation. I look forward to your usual fascinating additions.

          • “Good law, despite what the Fourth Circuit says.”


            I say, you’ve made my point.

          • Fishbone

            “Oh. Good. Another progressive voice added to the conversation. I look forward to your usual fascinating additions.”

            Ad hominem! …Isn’t that term the Professional Libertarian Debater’s (TM) battle cry?

          • Oh please. The Fourth Circuit is out of order. Was that your point?

            The Fourth Circuit ruled that a biological female who identifies as a male may bring a claim under Title IX against a school for not allowing him to use the men’s restrooms and locker room facilities. In layman’s terms, this means that Title IX, a law designed to prevent discrimination based on sex in schools and universities, may now be used by transgender individuals in the Fourth Circuit to bring lawsuits alleging discrimination based on their gender identity. The Fourth Circuit essentially equated gender identity to biological sex for the purposes of Title IX. In doing so, it further eroded whatever is left of the distinction between the legislative and executive functions of our federal government.

            Under the Fourth Circuit’s decision, a federal agency can now rewrite a law with a simple guidance letter. This is agency deference of the most extreme character. Executive agencies are now not merely interpreting laws — they are writing them.

          • Peter Robbins

            I don’t think you understand what the term “good law” means, Mr. Peck. But I’ll give you a hint: disputing the wisdom of precedent is not the way to go.

          • bsummers

            Time to stop talking now, Peter. The Oracle has ruled that the Fourth Circuit is out of order, Resistance Is Futile, and that You Can’t Handle The Truth (prima facie).

          • “disputing the wisdom of precedent is not the way to go.”

            But it is sometimes the way it should go. I am confident that’s the way it will go.

            Precedent is just precedent.

          • Care to enlighten us with any more of your numeracy tricks?

            Is that a progressive thing? I see it a lot from you guys when your spent.

          • While you’re thinking of a comment to make that doesn’t contain profanities, here’s some topic-related good news.

            Latest data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis:

            Since 2013, North Carolina has the #1 fastest growing economy in the nation. The state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has seen a 13.4 percent increase since 2013.

          • In the spirit of brotherhood, I’ll alert you to a lecture coming up that I think you and your fellow progressives could benefit from. Invite your friends.

            “Civility in Politics”

            The League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County will be holding its annual meeting on Saturday, May 14th. We are privileged to have Western Carolina Professor and Department Head of Political Science and Public Affairs, Chris Cooper, as our keynote speaker on Civility in Politics.

            This event is open to the public!

            Saturday, May 14th
            11:30 am – 1:00 pm Event and Keynote
            1:00 – 2:00 pm Annual Meeting
            DoubleTree Hotel
            115 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville

            Please RSVP by May 13th
            To: Virginia Daffron
            Phone: 828-231-7207 or
            Email: vdaffron@gmail.com
            Cost of lunch is $20 payable at the event

  2. boatrocker

    Apparently, the wallet is the only constituent people in power listen to in this day and age.

    Vive la boycott, hit ’em where it hurts. The right back pocket that is.

    It worked with those pesky progressive rebel colonists before the American Revolution, Gandhi and salt/textiles, MLK and buses, the Jewish boycott of Henry Ford for doing biz with Nazi Germany, the ‘disinvestment’ boycott of 1980’s South Africa, etc.

    When the bottom line is suddenly threatened, watch the American far right Taliban panic.

    • Hauntedheadnc

      “When the bottom line is suddenly threatened, watch the American far right Taliban panic.”

      Nonsense. When the bottom line of good, upstanding, moral, churchgoing places is threatened because those crazy liberals won’t let us hate in peace, Jesus steps in personally and before you know it the riches are practically falling from the sky. Why, just look at Mississippi.

  3. Hmm, let me see. We have liberal rock stars boycotting NC because of a law that says you have to have a vagina to use the girls rooms, yet these guys have no problem going to Italy, where gays have no rights and are at best second class citizens.

    And a few business that have no problem doing business in Mexico, where gays are still persecuted (B Group), or establishing ties with Malaysia (PayPal) where gays are locked up and executed.

    I say good riddance to those hypocritical whiners.
    Having said that, I do wish the Repubs would quit wasting my tax money passing laws we do not need (but do a good job of distracting us from their other behaviors)

  4. This is interesting:

    Government watchdog group Democracy North Carolina has launched a petition drive to encourage the N.C. Chamber to speak out on the law.

    “I think they cut a deal,” Bob Hall, the group’s executive director, said of the N.C. Chamber.

    State chambers of commerce in Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have all come out against similar anti-LGBT legislation, but unlike proposals in other states, House Bill 2 includes provisions that make it much harder for workers to sue for job discrimination and that bans local governments from requiring contractors to pay a certain wage. Both are key priorities for the N.C. Chamber.

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