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Arizona Boycott Over Immigration Law Results in Canceled Conventions

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Arizona Flag - Arizona Boycott Over Immigration Law Results in Canceled ConventionsA controversial Arizona law has many government officials crying boycott, threatening the state’s already strained tourism trade.

Opponents of Arizona’s new immigration law are urging tourists not to visit the state and  pressuring businesses and organizations to cancel conventions based in Arizona.

The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association says that the boycotts have already cost the Grand Canyon state six major conventions, including a convention for immigration lawyers.

The Immigration Lawyers Association had planned to host its September meeting in Scottsdale, but canceled those plans as soon as the immigration law was signed.

On Tuesday, seven members of the Los Angeles City Council signed a proposal for a boycott, calling for the city to among other things refrain from participating in conventions in Arizona.

Hiker in Sedona, ArizonaA cross-border meeting in Phoenix for the Mexican state of Sonora has also been canceled. It will be the first time the annual gathering will be interrupted in more than 50 years.

The lost conventions are bad news for the state’s struggling convention industry, which is critical for Arizona tourism.

According to Professional Convention Management Association, the weak economy has forced many meeting planners to scale back their events. Boycotts could deter already budget-conscious travelers who are attending conventions in smaller numbers.

The Phoenix Convention Center is especially vulnerable to these boycotts. The center recently finished a $600 million expansion and has been forced to cut its own operating budget because of falling revenue and debts.

If the convention center ends up in bigger financial trouble because of the boycotts, the city of Phoenix—already suffering a $240 million budget shortfall—will have to foot the bill.

Arizona depends heavily on its $18 billion tourism industry, which has already been reeling from a decline in tourism because of the recession.

Fallout from the law could affect the 200,000 people, many of them Latinos, who depend on the tourism industry for their paycheck.

By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Politico

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