Finding Bargains in a Boycott?

By David Seminara on April 28, 2010

Individuals and groups around the country – including the usual suspects like the city of San Francisco, Al Sharpton, and immigration attorneys – are promising to boycott Arizona in the wake of the passage of the controversial immigration bill S.B. 1070. But will ordinary American tourists and business people boycott the state in any kind of significant way?

A reporter from the New York Times interviewed Will Conroy, the manager of the Arizona Inn in Tucson regarding the potential impact of the boycott, and Conroy claimed that a dozen guests had cancelled their reservations over the weekend, citing the immigration legislation. The article quotes one of the messages received from a woman named Joy Mann.

"This is a very scary situation that the police can now just come up to you for no reason and ask for papers," she wrote. "My son is a construction worker and is very suntanned. I cannot ask him to join us there now, as I would fear for him." I sure feel sorry for Joy Mann's son. If his mom won't let him go to Arizona because he's got a bit of a suntan, I'm guessing that getting permission to see R-rated movies at the weekend is probably also still a tough sell.

Just as I'd forgotten about Will Conroy and his lovely boutique hotel in Tucson, he surfaced again, on the NPR program "Marketplace" on Tuesday night. "It is affecting us as a business, significantly," Conroy said of the boycott efforts. "It's just upsetting to read these e-mails. People that love the inn, but that are putting their feelings about Arizona first. And they won't be coming back, they say."

After listening to Conroy's woe-is-us carping about the devastating effects of the nascent boycott, a light bulb went off in my head. I've always wanted to visit Tucson, so I thought that perhaps I'd get a real bargain at the Arizona Inn, given the supposedly sad state of affairs there.

But alas, the Arizona Inn was sold out for each of the various dates I tried in May, and the cheapest room available on the few nights that were available later in the month cost a whopping $339 per night. So much for finding bargains in a boycott.