Within a week of the passage of Arizona SB 1070, a controversial immigration bill, 19 groups canceled meetings scheduled for the state, costing the local hospitality industry more than $6 million in lost revenue. But meeting and tourism industry leaders are urging meeting professionals to continue with their Arizona-based events as planned.
“We call for an end to counterproductive Arizona travel boycotts,” stated Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Immigration reform is an important and sensitive topic for Arizona and the country at large. This complex issue should be resolved on the merits of various proposals, not by holding an industry and its 300,000 employees hostage to politics.
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“We appreciate the acknowledgment that travel is a major economic force in Arizona and across the country,” he continued. “We need to protect this critical aspect of our economy and reward hard-working Americans instead of proposing boycotts that will lead to job losses and economic hardship for families and local communities. It is inappropriate to punish the men and women of our industry who have done no harm to others.”
On Engage, a Meeting Professionals International (MPI) blog, President and CEO Bruce MacMillan explained MPI’s position on the boycotts surrounding travel and events in Arizona: “Our industry is about connecting people, opportunities and ideas. Using travel boycotts as a political weapon in Arizona (or anywhere) only hurts the local communities and the 200,000 workers in the state that benefit from the meeting and event industry. It also frustrates growth and innovation at a time when its never been needed more. We encourage options for dialogue that don’t sacrifice a $7 billion Arizona meeting and event industry in the middle of an economic recovery.”