ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The NAACP travel advisory warning African-Americans to avoid the state of Missouri has local tourism and convention planners worried about long-term fallout.
So far, a dozen conventions have cancelled events in St. Louis, according to Kitty Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis.
“We’ve had quite a few hotels in contract-phase with different groups where the groups have pulled out,” Ratcliffe said. “They hadn’t signed the contracts, but had been issued the contracts and were going to come. And those have great impacts, especially when they’re short term.”
The advisory was issued by the Missouri NAACP in July, after Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law a bill making it harder for employees to sue their employer for discrimination. Also, the civil rights group has been unhappy with the high rate of black motorists pulled over by police in Missouri.
Long term, Ratcliffe worries the travel advisory could taint Missouri in the minds of many as a place that’s unsafe to visit.
“If people of color who are members of national organizations that have their conventions booked here in the future are concerned about their safety, then that’s a very real perception that we have to continue to deal with,” Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe is hoping the travel advisory will expire later this month. It’s her understanding it was set to run through August 28.
But a member of the NAACP national board in St. Louis, John Gaskin, says he’s not sure when the advisory might end.
Gaskin says he’s awaiting a signal from statewide leadership as to whether the advisory will be lifted August 28 or continue.
“It is incumbent on leadership of the state conference to formulate a policy that makes sense,” Gaskin said, “to make the end goal clear.”