Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau calls language ban "wrong message"

December 5, 2006

TO: Members of the Metro Council

FROM: Butch Spyridon, President
Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau

RE: Opposition to English-only Ordinance (BL 2006 – 1185)

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Board wanted to share its opposition to the English-only ordinance (BL 2006 – 1185) that is before the Metro Council for third and final reading tonight.

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau is opposed to this bill because:

• It sends the wrong message about Nashville to our visitors. Our organization markets Nashville to the world as a multi-faceted, diverse and friendly and welcoming destination – in fact, we have received accolades as the friendliest city in America numerous times.

We all know that Nashville’s brand as Music City is known throughout the world. Out of the 10 million visitors a year that visit us, it is estimated that 6 -8 % are international visitors. Passage of this legislation sends the wrong message to those visitors that we are an exclusive city and do not welcome multi-cultural constituencies to come visit, live, or work here. By harming our ability to attract the leisure traveler, the business traveler, and the conventioneer, we also negatively impact the Metro sales tax base, estimated at $82 million/year, that benefits from these visitors and helps support needed Metro services.

• It sends the wrong message to our hospitality industry multi-cultural and ethnic workforce. The hospitality industry is our second largest industry, employing 56,000 people – one in five working adults in Nashville is in a tourism-related job, generating over $1.6 billion in wages. Adoption of this bill would send a very powerful negative message to thousands of multi-cultural and ethnic individuals who currently comprise our hospitality work force or who may consider coming to Nashville to be part of our second largest industry that they are not welcome, wanted or respected.

• It sends the wrong message about Nashville as a business address. As businesses and corporations, particularly those with an international work force, look to expand and/or re-locate to Nashville, this bill may put those decisions at risk. Not only is our economic development then threatened but it also threatens our ability to host the meetings and conventions that those corporations could bring to our city.

We ask that you carefully consider the impact of this legislation upon our identity and image as an international visitor destination and business address as well as the impact upon our international workforce and vote against it.

Thank you.

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