Racial Profiling and the Economic Impact of Politics on EventsMonday, May 03, 2010
The governor of Arizona recently signed a controversial bill into law seen by many as one that makes racial profiling legal in the state. Designed to stem illegal immigration, the law allows police to ask for identification from anyone they deem acting "reasonably suspicious." Regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, the impact this law is already having on Arizona's event tourism industries is huge.
As of this past Friday, 19 meetings totaling 15,000 room nights had been canceled as result of boycotts, causing the state to lose more than $6 million in revenue. Arizona has also been vying for either the RNC or DNC conventions for 2012 and for the privilege of hosting next year's Major League Baseball All-Star game. These events are also now considering other host states as a result of the law. Not only will revenue be lost from those events, but from all the ancillary social events that go along with them.
Scottsdale and Phoenix have built a lucrative corporate event industry, attracting companies from all over the world to spend their convention and corporate incentive event budgets in Arizona. These cities were hit hard by the economy as corporate event spending dropped off and have only recently started to recover.
Wedding tourism will be affected as well, as Scottsdale is among the top ten destination wedding locations in the country. There are 43 businesses involved in an average wedding in the United States, which means that 43 businesses will be financially impacted for each wedding Arizona loses because of this law.
While the law has been analyzed (and skewered) across the traditional media outlets, social media has also played a large role with many people calling for boycotts through Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association has even set up its own anti-boycott Facebook page to encourage people "not to punish 200,000 tourism employees because of politics".
The bottom line however is that politics ALWAYS affects business. Know the issues and vote when given the opportunity, even in the "small" elections. Not having an informed opinion on politics does not work if you're an entrepreneur.