The Omni Hotel at Second and Liberty streets is by far the largest hotel development with 613 rooms. | Courtesy of Omni

Omni Louisville Hotel confirmed Saturday that it had lost two conventions “because of a travel ban instituted by the state of California in response to Kentucky legislation.”

Last month, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that Kentucky was one of several states to be banned from official state-funded travel due to laws that he said discriminated against LGBT people. He specifically cited Senate Bill 17 — passed into law by the Kentucky General Assembly this year, which “could allow student-run organizations in colleges and K-12 schools to discriminate against classmates based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The hotel said in a statement Saturday that it would have been the venue for the conventions and that it had received phone calls from each convention withdrawing from negotiations due to the ban. The Omni Louisville is slated for completion in 2018.

In its brief statement, Scott Stuckey, the hotel’s general manager, said, “We have used discretion in discussing this issue and have not identified the conventions, in hopes that we could persuade them to do business with Omni and Louisville in the future.”

Scott Stuckey | Courtesy of Omni Louisville

In response to the conventions pulling out, representatives from Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sports Commission, UPS, Brown-Forman, Greater Louisville Inc. and Mayor Greg Fischer held a recent press conference to express concern with the impact that the negative attention might have on the city.

These conventions, both from groups headquartered in Chicago, would have accounted for more than $2 million in economic impact, Karen Williams, president and chief executive of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said during the press conference. She declined at the time to identify the conventions. Combined, the conventions would have accounted for around 4,300 room nights. One convention in 2018 was a medical convention, one in 2020 was a “very prestigious research” convention, Williams said.

On Saturday, the mayor said via Twitter: “Omni’s announcement shows that the California travel ban is a real threat to our growing tourism economy. It’s my job as mayor to stand up for our citizens. We need state help in fixing this issue and its unintended consequences.”

 

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Mickey Meece
Mickey Meece is a native of Louisville, a Kentucky Colonel and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She worked at The New York Times for 13 years in various capacities on the business and features desk, including assistant to the editor, small business editor, weekend editor and staff editor. Mickey served as executive editor of USAA Magazine, the Money magazine for military families, and was an editor for the American Banker newspaper, where she reported on the credit card industry.