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How HB2 has affected Asheville's summer tourism

Downtown Asheville on August 25, 2016. The Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotel occupancy rates for the city in June and July were around 83 percent, which suggests a good summer tourism season, despite HB2. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotel occupancy rates in June and July were around 83 percent.

The CVB said those are strong numbers, which suggest a good summer tourism season. The data cannot count people who did not come, because of House Bill 2.

RELATED | New tourism video promotes acceptance while HB2 impacts Asheville economy

Elijah Sommer is one of the many tourists who have visited Asheville. News 13 found him at the Asheville Pinball Museum.

"There's just something about being able to stand in front of this and being able to interact with a machine," Sommer, about to start 8th grade, said.

The museum moved to a new space in the spring of last year. The ball hasn't stopped moving since.

"We were packed all summer with waiting lists almost every single day. We routinely had 50 to 60 people standing outside the door before we opened. So, yeah, it was a good summer. It didn't hurt us at all," TC Dibella, Asheville Pinball Museum owner, said.

While people are still visiting Asheville, The Vermont Women's basketball team cancelled a game at UNC, because of HB2. Vermont's Athletic Director said HB2 runs contrary to the University's values.

RELATED | NBA moving All-Star Game out of Charlotte, cites LGBT law

Also, Russell Wilson, the former Tourists baseball player and Seattle Seahawk, cancelled a wedding in North Carolina, because of HB2, according to theknot.com.

Business owners hope tourists look past the law.

In a poll this week from Monmouth University, 70 percent of likely NC voters feel HB2 has been bad for the state's reputation, and just 36 percent approve of the law with 55 percent disapprove.

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