Arizona is spending $280,000 to assure would-be visitors that it is a safe and welcoming destination despite its tough new immigration law.
The passage of the immigration law in April resulted in nationwide boycotts, protests and numerous cancellations by meeting planners and others, who either found the law offensive or were worried about the state’s growing drug war on the Mexico border.
At least 15 groups issued travel boycotts to the state, including the American Educational Research Association and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. More than 20 cities and counties in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Washington also boycotted the state. As a result, at least eight meetings were canceled. The National Minority Suppliers Development Council, expected to draw 7,000 attendees, is moving its fall Phoenix convention to Florida. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the oldest African-American Greek-lettered fraternity, and the National Urban League also canceled its meetings.
A task force formed by Gov. Jan Brewer recommended the new image campaign. Most of the funding — $250,000 — is state money, however, the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association is chipping in $30,000. The immigration law goes into effect at the end of July.