Boycott Against AZ Law Could Cost State Convention Industry 2,800 Jobs And $141 million

Back in April, when Arizona’s enacted the nation’s harshest immigration law, several groups banded together to organize a boycott campaign against the state. Today, the Center for American Progress, along with the consulting firm Elliott D. Pollack & Company, released a report surveying the economic impact of the boycott. The report’s findings show that the boycott has in fact had a significant impact on the state’s convention industry:

Arizona’s Hotel and Lodging Association publicly reported a combined loss of $15 million in lodging revenue due to meeting cancellations just four months after the bill’s passage. Our extensive research estimates that the actual lost lodging revenue from these cancellations is at least three times that amount: $45 million. That estimate provides a basis for calculating other losses in visitor spending. Analyzing average food and beverage, entertainment, in-town transportation, and retail sales brings the combined loss of estimated conference attendee spending up to a startling $141 million.

This significant hit to direct visitor spending could not come at a worse economic time for Arizona and yet these numbers still vastly understate the overall consequences of these cancellations for the state’s economy. Cancelled meetings and conferences over the next two to three years would have supported nearly 2,800 jobs. The cancellations will trigger more than a quarter billion dollars in lost economic output and more than $86 million in lost wages.

The damage doesn’t end there. The study also noted that “large convention bookings typically occur several years in advance, and many organizations and associations will be making booking decisions over the course of the next year.” Regardless of the position taken by those entities on immigration, they may perceive planning a convention in Arizona as potentially controversial and take their business somewhere else.

Based on that future scenario, the report concludes, “Arizona businesses will lose $76 million in direct revenue from decisions not to book in Arizona in the future. That loss translates into 1,475 lost jobs, $46 million in lost wages, $135 million in lost economic output, and $5 million in lost tax revenues.”

Arizona is currently facing an estimated $825 million budget deficit. Local economist John Lucking said that Arizona can “expect to see sluggish growth through next year.”