Transgender Bills Could Call for Tourism Boycott

The Mount Rushmore Memorial(Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Opponents of a bill that would prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice are taking aim at South Dakota’s $3.8 billion tourism industry.

Would-be travelers on Wednesday threatened to cancel trips to the Rushmore State if Gov. Dennis Daugaard doesn’t veto the bill, which would require students to use bathrooms based on their biological sex at birth or else make separate accommodations with the school.

The claims came a day after activists on Twitter took over a hashtag created by the state’s tourism department and used it to criticize legislators for advancing legislation they said would lead to bullying and discrimination.


The effort to pressure the governor by highlighting the potential tourism losses mirrors similar efforts in Indiana and Arizona, both of which recently saw substantial backlash from bills that were criticized as discriminatory.

South Dakota travel industry officials are skeptical about the transgender legislation’s potential to put a dent in the number of visitors coming to the state — nearly 13.7 million last year. And one business owner called the boycott threats a “bullying tactic” by transgender supporters.