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Tourism officials boost marketing efforts in Va. town after Huckabee Sanders restaurant incident

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A Virginia regional tourism board is reshaping its marketing efforts after protesters were drawn to the area because of controversy at The Red Hen restaurant.

The Roanoke Times reported Sunday that Rockbridge Regional Tourism — comprised of members from Lexington, Va., Buena Vista, Va., and Rockbridge County — decided to spend an additional $5,000 per month from July through September to try and attract more visitors.

The tourism office dipped into its emergency funds for the boost, which localities reportedly decided was necessary after negative coverage from an incident at The Red Hen restaurant involving White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

{mosads}The restaurant, located in Lexington, Va., made national headlines after the owner refused to serve Sanders and her family.

“For a town our size, it was a significant impact,” Director of Marketing Patty Williams told The Roanoke Times.

Williams said the tourism office received thousands of emails and phone calls after the Red Hen controversy, including from some visitors who vowed never to come back to the region, The Roanoke Times reported.

In addition to the funding, the tourism group is reportedly pulling together a survey to poll travelers on whether they recall The Red Hen incident and whether it would impact their decision to travel to the area in the future.

Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post following the June incident that she asked Sanders to leave because the restaurant employs several LGBT employees, and Sanders’s defense of President Trump’s call to bar transgender people from the military was antithetical to her beliefs. 

Sanders later tweeted about the episode from her government Twitter account, saying that she was asked to leave because she worked for Trump and that she departed the restaurant “politely.”

Trump then lashed out at the restaurant via Twitter, calling the establishment “filthy.”

Protesters gathered outside the establishment in the days that followed, and some Republicans called for a boycott of the restaurant.

Tags Donald Trump Lexington red hen White House Press Secretary

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