Last updated: 04:35 PM ET, Thu March 31 2016

Will North Carolina’s Tourism Take a Hit With New Anti-LGBT Law?

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | March 31, 2016

Will North Carolina’s Tourism Take a Hit With New Anti-LGBT Law?

PHOTO: North Carolina's tourism industry stands to take a big hit with new anti-LGBT law. (Photo courtesly Thinkstock)

Looks like North Carolina’s tourism industry may take a big hit after Governor Pat McCrory signed an anti-LGBT bill into law last week.

The new law prevents cities from creating non-discrimination policies based on gender identity and mandates that students in state schools use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on his or her birth certificate.

The bill came about when the city of Charlotte expanded its nondiscrimination ordinance to allow transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender to which they identify.

Proponents of the bill say that the new, anti-LGBT law creates a statewide anti-discrimination policy rather than one that varies from city to city.

READ MORE: Indiana's 'Religious Beliefs' Law Impacting Travel to the Hoosier State

Immediately after the bill was signed into law, several states and cities decried it and forbade publicly funded travel to the state for employees, which was the first blow to North Carolina’s tourism industry

Then, Funny or Die made created a mock tourism video, highlighting the state’s new anti-LGBT qualities. The video ends with the line, “We’re resisting social progress rather than helping people in need, because North Carolina stands for ‘Nobody Cares.”

Conferences and meetings are also looking for alternate venues now that the law has gone into effect. Charlotte Tourism noted that would-be customers have withdrawn their interest in Charlotte due to the new law.

Charlotte Regional Visitor Authority president Tom Murray told the Charlotte Observer that he is “extremely concerned” and that he continues to hear “negative feedback and potential event cancellations.”

And today, a letter coordinated by the Human Rights Campaign asking the governor to repeal the law was delivered to Governor McCrory’s office. News of the letter came out on Tuesday, and it already had the signatures of more than 80 executives from powerful companies such as Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook.

By the time the letter was delivered, it had signatures from a wide variety of companies from big banks to a number of travel and tourism-related heavy hitters, including Hilton Hotels, Uber and American Airlines – not companies that you want on your bad side. All in all, more than 100 companies had signed the letter, stating that the law is bad for business, among other concerns.

READ MORE: Puerto Vallarta’s LGBT Pride

In the letter, it says:

“We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the nation,” the letter says. “It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.”

If Indiana is any example, the negative publicity, relentless criticism and public pressure to repeal the law is a long way from dissipating ... unless of course the state has a change of heart.

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