Georgia Tourism Industry Fears Backlash of Immigration Bill

As Georgia Governor Nathan Deal prepares to sign the state’s new immigration law into effect, tourism promoters worry that the tough measure may alienate some travelers and lead to a loss of revenue for the state.

House Bill 87 creates new requirements for many Georgia businesses to ensure new hires are eligible to work in the US, and also gives police the power to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects, according to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal. Some business owners worry that Georgia will experience the same tourism backlash seen in Arizona after the passage of its controversial immigration legislation last year.

The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau went on record against the bill, saying it could “tarnish” Atlanta’s reputation as one of the nation’s most welcoming cities and significantly harm the region’s $10 billion tourism industry, according to the newspaper.

Arizona reportedly lost millions in direct spending and tax revenue after its immigration law was passed. A study released last year by the Center for American Progress found that the state lost $141 million in direct spending from convention attendees – which the organization said is the backbone of the state’s tourism industry – along with $9.4 million in state taxes and nearly 2,800 jobs.