Georgia's , , went into effect Friday. In addition to the bill's effects on the economy, education, and more, the law could affect tourism in Georgia, especially large conventions.
The Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, which manages the Gwinnett Center and Arena, supported a resolution by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau saying that the bill could cause a loss in revenues from conventions and tourism.
“We don't support it,” said Lisa Anders, deputy director of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, of the immigration law. “It has the potential to give Atlanta an unwelcoming image for conventions and meetings.”
But so far, Atlanta has not lost any conventions, and she hopes Gwinnett will be the same. She said she doesn't think the bill will affect leisure tourism in Lawrenceville.
“I think it's going to be a non-issue for Gwinnett, because we're such a diverse community,” Anders said. “I don't see it as much of an impact.”
State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), who represents District 101 and voted in favor of the bill, wrote an editorial in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution debunking the claims that Georgia, like Arizona, will lose tourism revenue.
He refers to a widely reported study that said Arizona's tourism industry suffered at $141 million loss as a result of its immigration reform law. But he also mentions the other side of the story – that Arizona's total tourism revenue is $19.3 billion per year.
“I think it's wildly exaggerated,” Brockway said of HB 87's possible effect on tourism. “The impact on Arizona was about a three-quarters of one percent drop.”
(R-Lawrenceville), who represents District 104, also voted in favor of HB 87.
“All in all, I think it's a good bill and I feel like it will not adversely affect our tourism,” she said. “Atlanta's such a draw to so many big headquarters. I hope it would not affect tourism.”
Clark said the immigration bill was thoughtful and well-informed.
“It was so well-examined before it was voted on,” she said. “[State Rep.] Matt Ramsey [R-Peachtree City] interviewed, anyone who had an opinion on it was listened to.”
Anders, of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, hopes the law will not discourage visitors.
“We're keeping an eye on it and if we do see it becoming an issue, we'll address it immediately,” she said. “While that law may be in place, it's not representative of how our community feels about visitors.”