`Chiraq` documentary hasn`t stopped tourism - Fox 2 News Headlines

`Chiraq`: Chicago tourism thrives despite films about city`s violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX 32 News first told you last week of a big increase in tourism that is pumping hundreds of millions of extra dollars into Chicago's hotels and restaurants.

The new visitors are coming despite intensely negative new publicity about the violence here--including the label "Chiraq"— which has gone viral. Many travelers seem to understand that every big city has no-go neighborhoods.

When FOX 32 stopped by the international visitor center at Randolph and Michigan, we learned several dozen foreign tourists had sought information in the previous hour. The log sheet showed Australia, Canada, France, Italy and a dozen other countries of origin. They came, despite having seen Chicago portrayed undesirably on their screens back home.

It's the kind of coverage that Alexander Voegele said he's often seen back home in Strasbourg, France.

"It didn't make for me any difference," says Alexander Voegele, a tourist visiting from Strasbourg, France. "I wanted to come here."

A big reason: Voegele, an architect by trade, wanted to see Chicago's world-renowned skyline. A 52-minute long French documentary shot last year did show a lot of the skyline, while also noting President Obama's work 30 years ago in a now-very violent section of the South Side.

A city government source told FOX 32 News similar stories have recently been filed by camera crews and reporters from Italy, Germany, Canada and England, not to mention domestic news outlets here in the U.S.

Most make the same point as a recent documentary called "Chiraq:" the more than 4,200 murder victims here since 2001 exceed the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan. Still, Chicago is attracting millions of new visitors.

"In terms of attracting tourists, keeping tourists and gaining new convention business and international visitors, it is not impacting our mission," says head of Choose Chicago, Donald Welsh.

"I found that it's quite clean city and quite safe in the center," Voegele says. "I didn't feel any, uh, in danger."

Several other foreign tourists agreed.

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