Missouri is in the company of Myanmar and Cuba on a travel guide’s list of places to not visit in 2018.
“Fodor’s No List 2018” places Missouri at No. 7 among places to be avoided. Missouri is the only state on the list, which includes places where swarms of tourists have triggered a backlash (Venice, Amsterdam) or done environmental damage (the Galápagos), and destinations with health, safety and ethical issues.
Missouri seems to fit in the safety and ethics category, with the travel guide pointing to laws it deems unfair and “startling headlines” about the state.
A spokesperson for the Missouri Division of Tourism wasn’t available for comment Monday.
Fodor’s explains its list this way:
“Travelers must decide how and where we can concern our efforts to observe and preserve the splendor of life around us, and we do that with everything from our currency to our presence. Fodor’s No List is a reflection of those considerations: where should we go — or not go — that best reflects our courtesy and concern for this wonderful world. Because sometimes you have to say no to the ones you love in hopes that they can recover, reconsider, or reform.”
Under a stock image of the Gateway Arch, Fodor’s starts off by pointing out some of the Missouri’s good qualities. It says Missouri is “full of wonders that belong on anyone’s travel bucket list.” It mentions positives such as limestone caves, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Kansas City’s barbecue, jazz and Silver Dollar City.
But Fodor’s then blasts Missouri as “the place where SB 43 was passed making it more difficult to sue employers for discrimination, a state representative argued that homosexuals weren’t human beings, a tourist who got lost and ran out of gas was later found murdered in his jail cell without ever being put under arrest, and two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim on the outskirts of Kansas City.” (The shooting in the Kansas City area actually took place in Kansas.)
The legislation Fodor’s refers to makes it harder for employees to make a case for workplace discrimination. Gov. Eric Greitens said the law brought Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government, and supporters of the law say it has nothing to do with travel.
The Missouri chapter of the NAACP passed a resolution for a travel advisory last July, recommending tourists to avoid Missouri. The site quotes the head of Missouri’s NAACP chapter as saying the state has “a separate standard of laws that are only applicable to some people.”
In August, the head of the region’s tourism and convention agency, Explore St. Louis, said the hotel industry was “being used as a weapon” politically by the NAACP over the legislation and that several area hotels said they had lost meeting groups because of the advisory.
“When we found out about this nearly two months ago, we were deeply saddened to hear that Fodor’s made this comment about our state,” Kitty Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis, said in a statement Monday. “The fact is that St. Louis remains a diverse, cosmopolitan and welcoming region. Explore St. Louis fully supports nondiscrimination, equal rights, and fair and just due process for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin. Be assured that the more than 88,000 dedicated employees of the St. Louis metropolitan area’s hospitality industry remain committed to serving and welcoming people from all backgrounds and experiences to our community.”
The list was first released in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story originally ran on stltoday.com, a sister publication of The Southern.