Asheville tourism leader: 7 group cancellations due to HB2


Stephanie Pace Brown, executive director of the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, will deliver an update Wednesday before the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority on what effect HB2 has had on tourism in Asheville.

The gist of the report will be that seven groups have canceled meetings in the mountains, according to Brown. Of those seven, one is a large group. (I’ve received reports on what group that is, but I haven’t confirmed it yet.) Brown will report that she has also received about 30 emails.

Update: WLOS confirms that  the Detroit-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation has canceled a major conference planned to be held at the Omni Grove Park Inn because of HB2. The cancellation would have brought 500 people to town, and would have had an estimated $1.5 million economic impact.

Brown will talk about some communication strategies to combat the negative response to HB2, strategies that will be aimed at the group market. That market is one that Asheville tourism officials have been working hard to attract recently. It’s a key market as a wave of new hotels comes online over the next three years, increasing the total number of hotel rooms in the county by about 20 percent.

In the meantime, Asheville and Buncombe County have been enjoying a strong winter and early spring season for hotel room sales. Occupancy rates for January and February have shown increases year-over-year, according to Buncombe TDA statistics, and anecdotally, sales have been strong into March and April.

HB2 is shorthand for the controversial law that North Carolina lawmakers passed in March that prevents local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances for members of the LGBT community. It is also known as the “bathroom bill” because it requires people to use restrooms of the corresponding sex recorded on their birth certificates.

Several leaders of high-profile companies have denounced the new law, and a series of big-name performers have canceled appearances in the Tar Heel state in response. On Sunday, the Greensboro News & Record tallied the losses caused by HB2 in the Triad area. The story quoted Mark File, founder of the popular Romantic Asheville website and a resident of Greensboro:

“We have a black eye, and it’ll take years to erase, if that’s even possible,” said Mark File, a Greensboro resident who runs a website called



Tim Peck May 2, 2016 - 7:07 pm

“Tex? Wanna answer him?”

I moved to Texas right after I stopped beating my wife.

Huh May 2, 2016 - 9:16 pm

Wow. Don’t think you worked that out in your head first.

Tim Peck April 30, 2016 - 8:48 am

“The law will be repealed by November, or the guv will be out. Wanna wager, Tex?”


Tim Peck April 30, 2016 - 8:47 am

“when did Mr. Peck move to Texas, ‘chris’ ?”


Huh April 30, 2016 - 3:01 pm

That’s a good question, Fisher Caudle.

Tex? Wanna answer him?

Tim Peck April 28, 2016 - 8:00 am

“HB2 abolishes all claims based on violation of that very act.”

That is a false statement. HB2 in no way hinders the right of action in federal court regarding claims of employment discrimination.

Matt May 1, 2016 - 12:48 am

I”m talking about state level, you doof. Everyone is talking about the state level. This has nothing to do with Federal process.

Matt April 26, 2016 - 6:04 pm

Tim Posted a link to the EEPA (Equal Employment Protection Act) on here. Why did you do that, Tim? The EEPA no longer applies. HB2 abolishes all claims based on violation of that very act.

jtroop April 26, 2016 - 4:39 pm

the culture wars suck….

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 4:33 pm

Uh oh

“Kellogg’s Gets Grant for $19.5 Million Expansion in Cary”

Unaffiliated Voter April 26, 2016 - 2:12 pm

Cannot believe all these groups being SO damned IGNORANT of the LAW which basically 80%+ of the people SUPPORT in NC ! It just shows THEIR ignorance and INTOLERANCE…the INTOLERANT Left as usual …

chris April 26, 2016 - 2:49 pm

Fisher Caudle, you’re so funny!

Unaffiliated Voter April 27, 2016 - 8:45 am

for your entertainment AND enlightenment! strive to be SMARTER!

chris April 27, 2016 - 9:01 am

Fisher Caudle, you’re so funny!

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 1:38 pm

“Completely irrelevant to HB2”

I think you’re wrong there. EO93 is consistent with the provisions of Section 2.1 of HB2 allowing governmental units to set their own non-discrimination policy. EO93 is directly related to HB2.

“I don’t give a crap about Kellogg”

I find it odd that someone would not “give a crap” about Kellogg’s anti-gay personnel policy when Kellogg has declared that they are opposed to HB2 on precisely those grounds. You seem decidedly uncurious about that apparent contradiction.

chris April 26, 2016 - 2:49 pm

What did I say? Do you read, or just imagine what people are saying and respond to that?

I said I don’t give a crap in reference to HB2. I don’t give a crap because Kellogg’s position is not relevant to my position on HB2.

I find it odd that you give a crap, considering you are a paid shill living in Texas working for some unknown entity to spread your anti-progressive screed. But for you, it’s not just a paycheck, is it Tex? It’s a lifestyle!

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 10:55 am

The State Governor sets a broader non-discrimination policy for state employees than does Kellogg for its employees:

Executive Order #93
Section 2. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for State Employees
I hereby affirm that the State of North Carolina is committed to administering and implementing all State human resources policies, practices and programs fairly and equitably, without unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, genetic information, or disability.

chris April 26, 2016 - 12:51 pm

Completely irrelevant to HB2 and its inherent bigotry. I don’t give a crap about Kellogg in reference to NC’s HB2. You do, because you’re a paid flack living in Texas.

Unaffiliated Voter April 27, 2016 - 8:43 am

when did Mr. Peck move to Texas, ‘chris’ ?

Matt April 26, 2016 - 6:15 pm

Tim, This EO only says State Employers will implement policies lawfully. But the provisions of HB2 that permit discrimination of classes listed in the EEPA are still allowed (‘lawful’). Are you aware of this?

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 10:30 am

“You’ve uncovered yet another conspiracy, Tex!”

Have I? This is a citation of Kellogg’s personnel policy from their own website.

Do you not find it the least bit interesting that they do not themselves have the policies they are demanding of others (or else)? Their anti-discrimination policy is the same as that of the State of North Carolina.

So, what are they boycotting?

chris April 26, 2016 - 10:50 am

Nope. Why? Because I’m concerned about NC’s discrimination, not a company’s.

Why are they boycotting? Because it’s bad for business to be associated with NC, now. (Regardless of Kellog’s own position.) Should they change theirs? Absolutely.

But continue on with your rationalizing. The law will be repealed by November, or the guv will be out. Wanna wager, Tex?

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 8:33 am

The North Carolina standard:

The Equal Employment Practices Act (Article 49A of Chapter 143)
§ 143-422.2. Legislative declaration.
It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgement on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap…

Tim Peck April 26, 2016 - 8:31 am

The anti-gay Kellogg Foundation should boycott themselves instead of poor people in Asheville:

WKKF is an Equal Opportunity Employer and shall continue to adhere to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity to ensure that all applicants and employees are considered for hire, promotion, position status and other employment actions without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, age, gender, handicap, genetic information or veteran status.

chris April 26, 2016 - 9:36 am

You’ve uncovered yet another conspiracy, Tex!

Matt April 25, 2016 - 5:45 pm

“HB2….prevents local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances for members of the LGBT community.”

Yes AND House Bill 2 is so much more than that. It prevents anti-discrimination OF ANY KIND. It permits discrimination based on ANYTHING, including race, gender, religious orientation, or even a worker’s unwillingness to do something illegal.

In addition to this it preempts city’s rights to create mandatory minimum wage, improved sick leave, and other such policies.

Google House Bill 2 NC, and you will see a PDF. You can read it all right there. Additionally there are many helpful articles on line that help interpret the bill if the legalese is too much.

If you find this hard to understand and want to know where this bill came from google ALEC and HB2. ALEC is a powerful right-wing lobbying group that is passing such preemptive bills in unconstitutional closed door meetings in States around the US, taking autonomy from cities to undermine progressive worker’s rights movements.

Trudy April 25, 2016 - 8:03 pm

Well said, Matt. Few people have looked into the bill and realized the horrible extent of the permitted discrimination.

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