Chicago tourism official backtracks on crime comments - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago tourism official backtracks on crime comments

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The chief of Chicago's tourism bureau is running away from comments he made about the city's crime problem.

Don Welsh of Choose Chicago told the Tribune's editorial board that the city's 38 percent increase in murders was hurting tourism.

He said meeting planners from other cities had been calling him to ask if Chicago is a safe place to visit.

But he told the Sun-Times Thursday his comments were quote "misinterpreted" and "taken out of context."

Tourists are starting to hear about the problem because it's become national news.

"I think it's fairly safe. I was walking around last night and this morning, had no problems. I have been in a couple of crime ridden cities and I have never had any problems in Chicago," one man said.

One visitor from Baltimore says before he got on his flight for Chicago he heard about the shootings in the city but it was not his concern. He didn't intend to be in those areas.

"My wife is flying in tonight and she was concerned about that, but it's on the outskirts of the tourist attractions. Downtown Chicago is really nice. Lots of things to do. Really good," the man said.

Emanuel has talked about tourism, and how important it is to Chicago and says even a small uptick in the tourism rate can really bring billions of dollars to our economy.

Forty million people visit Chicago every year.

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