April 26, 2010 Yuma, AZ -- Activists are calling for an economic boycott of Arizona. Whether it's an empty threat or a movement in the making, local business leaders are considering the possibilities. Last week Congressman Raul Grijalva released a statement urging out-of-towners to not bring their conventions to Arizona. His Yuma office is back open today. Employees locked up early Friday after receiving threatening calls regarding the Democrat's call for action.
"We are asking not to bring their conventions here and give credence to this law," says Grijalva. "There has to be an embarrassment sanction and that's part of it."
The economic backlash from Arizona's immigration policy could slam Yuma tourism which is the number three industry in the county.
"Yuma has always been a welcoming community," says Ann Walker with the Yuma Visitors Bureau. She says travelers spend about $600 million a year in the Yuma area. That's more than $36 million in tax revenue. According to a 2007-2008 study by the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitors from south of the border account for more than nine-percent of sales in Yuma County.
"We get tons of people who cross the border to shop in Yuma. That's a big chunk of the local economy and we certainly hope those people will continue to come across the border and shop in Yuma."
Proposed boycotts come at a time when attendance at Yuma attractions are making serious gains. The number of visitors at the Quartermaster's Depot and the Territorial Prison have more than doubled compared to the same time last year. If the boycotts gain momentum, Arizona could have a serious problem. A boycott in the 1980s was used to convince lawmakers to establish a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That boycott cost Arizona hundreds of conventions and a Super Bowl.