Small businesses in North Carolina are already losing valuable business because of the new state law limiting protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Companies that cater to travelers from out of state are already feeling an impact from canceled events or are seeing a drop in inquiries. The Raleigh area will lose an estimated $3.5 million because of four conferences canceled or scaled back since the state legislature passed the bill March 23, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, and more events might also be canceled. Travel is a big industry in North Carolina, bringing in more than $21 billion in revenue last year.
Some business owners are trying to find ways to replace lost revenue. Others are concerned about being able to recruit out-of-state workers.
Inquiries about Jamie Gilpin’s Asheville area bicycle tours are down about a third since the law was passed. The tours take cyclists to places like the Blue Ridge Mountains, waterfalls and breweries. The falloff in interest was a surprise to Gilpin, owner of Outfitter Bicycle Tours, based in Hendersonville.
“It is a perfect cycle destination – tourism is huge here,” Gilpin says.
Facebook ads about the tours drew angry comments, with some people calling for a boycott of North Carolina.