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Impact Study Shows Adverse Effect of ‘Bathroom Bill’ Legislation

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (April 17, 2017) – A comprehensive study commissioned by Visit San Antonio and the San Antonio Tourism Council shows that any action taken by the Texas Legislature on social legislation, such as what is popularly known as “The Bathroom Bill,” would have dire economic effects on tourism and hospitality in San Antonio and the state.

The study, by the respected Perryman Group, was released at an afternoon news conference at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. It indicates that for the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area, the initial impact on business activity was estimated to be a loss of gross product of $411.8 million annually, as well as the elimination of 4,650 jobs.  For the state, reductions in travel and tourism activity would result in a gross product loss of more than $3.3 billion per year.

“In other words, what we have been saying all along is absolutely undeniable,” said Casandra Matej, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio. “These numbers tell us there will be a significant – and longstanding – adverse impact on San Antonio and the state. We urge our legislators to consider these effects in making their decisions.”

Steve Atkins of The Atkins Group, chairman of the San Antonio Tourism Council board, added, “San Antonio, like all of Texas, has always been a totally welcoming place and therefore we see no need for discrimination or non-discrimination legislative action regarding bathroom use.”

The Perryman Group is an economic research and analysis firm based in Waco. The firm, founded and run by Dr. Ray Perryman, has more than 30 years of experience in assessing the economic impact of regulatory changes, public policy initiatives and several other areas.

“We reached out to Ray Perryman because he is renowned economist, respected by legislators, state officials and our industry,” Matej said.

Variations of Senate Bill 6, the original “Bathroom Bill” legislation that was passed by that chamber last month, are currently being proposed to the Texas House.  Matej and Atkins stressed in the news conference that their organizations are proactively communicating with partners, legislators and state officials about concerns regarding these types of legislative actions.

Those proactive actions include commissioning the study with the Perryman Group. That research showed that travel and tourism in the state drives an annual economic benefit of nearly $129 billion in gross product.  In San Antonio alone, the industry generates more than $13 billion each year.

“When a state or community begins to try and define how people will or will not utilize bathroom facilities, then it flies in the face of being a totally welcoming and gracious place for all people,” Atkins said.

In Texas, the passing of any legislation deemed to be discriminatory or unwelcoming could result in reductions in the travel and tourism industry for a loss of 36,000 full-time jobs in the state. Also, it would mean annual losses of $176.4 million in state revenue and $84.3 million in local fiscal resources.

In San Antonio, Matej said that the city has already lost, or is in danger of losing, 11 meetings because of the potential legislation. In total, that would represent an impact of approximately $40 million.

“And those are just the meetings we know about,” Matej said. “My fear is that there are groups out there who have already scratched San Antonio off their lists because the state is being regarded as discriminatory and unwelcoming just because of these discussions.”

Also appearing with Matej and Atkins were Richard Perez, President & CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and Ramiro Cavazos, President & CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber.

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Attachments: Perryman Tourism Impact Study

Visit San Antonio is a 501(c)6, and serves as the sales and marketing arm of San Antonio as a leading leisure and meetings destination. San Antonio welcomes approximately 20 million overnight leisure visitors annually. Hospitality is one of the top five industries in the city, contributing $13.6 billion into the local economy and employing more than 130,000. More information about Visit San Antonio and its initiatives for hospitality partners can be found at Partners.VisitSanAntonio.com.