Don Welsh, the head of Choose Chicago -- a non-profit Mayor Rahm Emanuel created that merges the city's tourism and convention offices -- told the Chicago Tribune yesterday that he's concerned the city's increased homicide rate, compared to last year, might hurt tourism. Welsh said that five or six people called him in the last few weeks with worries that Chicago is not safe enough to visit.
Welsh sort of walked back his comments in a later interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, telling the paper, "There has never been a second thought about how we position Chicago as the safest big city in the world."
Besides the substantive issue of whether parts of Chicago are really now less safe, there is political intrigue to Welsh's comments. Emanuel has made tourism a focus, from touting the NATO summit as a way to raise the city's profile to setting up Chicago tourism offices across the world.