AUSTIN (KXAN) — Visit Austin said it’s losing business over state leaders’ actions against transgender care for children as well as recent Texas laws that passed last year.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families seeking gender-affirming care for their transgender children. This came after Attorney General Ken Paxton released a nonbinding legal opinion in which he argued certain gender-affirming care “can legally constitute child abuse.”
South by Southwest kicked off the convention season, and major events are scheduled in the coming months. But Visit Austin said that several groups with future events planned in Austin have voiced concerns about the governor’s directive.
Visit Austin said at least six organizations that considered Austin instead chose other cities to host their events, citing the legislative issues. Additionally, another business slated to have an event in Austin next year moved its convention to another city because of concerns over the state’s policies.
These lost leads could cost the city an estimated $50 million in economic impact.
“As the tourism industry has struggled from COVID, and we’re trying to recover, this kind of legislation doesn’t help us — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio — any of the major cities in Texas recover their tourism industry as quickly as we’d like to,” said Tom Noonan, Visit Austin president and CEO.
Many organizations ask the city to send their stance on these issues before deciding on whether or not to host their convention in town. Visit Austin said it’s working with Austin Mayor Steve Adler to convey the city’s stance on these issues to these groups.
We reached out to Abbott’s office about the impact the state’s policies are having on Austin. We will update this story when we hear back.