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STL leaders, visitors say recent shootings don’t deter tourism in the city

<i></i><br/>St. Louis
Lawrence, Nakia

St. Louis

By Gabriela Vidal

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — For out-of-town visitors like Garrett Vasquez, he said he’s felt at ease checking out the downtown sights during his visit.

“I like the city. It’s beautiful [and] has a lot of history to it,” said Vasquez. “So far, last night and today I haven’t had any problems, so I felt pretty safe. I like the fact that I can walk in, walk around in my Angels gear and not have any problems, so that’s always good.”

As baseball fans flocked over to Busch Stadium for the Cardinals vs. Angels series games, some of the region’s biggest tourism draws came together at Kiener Plaza for a downtown showcase called Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.

“The feedback that we get, time and time again from visitors coming from literally around the world is that they’re surprised and delighted with their vacation experience here in St. Louis,” said Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer for Explore St. Louis.

This downtown event comes less than a day since two separate shootings in the St. Louis city region shook up people in the community.

A shooting in the Central West End on Laclede and Taylor killed one person, and just across from the downtown convention center inside a parking garage at the Marriott hotel, a woman was also killed.

This all happened less than a week since another deadly shooting at Kiener Plaza.

News 4 asked visitors if the series of violent deaths in the city gave them pause.

“A little bit but then, I’ve been to some of the major cities in this country [like] New York and everything else, and you have to be aware of your surroundings,” said Mark Gold, who was visiting from California. “Strong police presence is important, but also don’t go out alone. I think that’s really an important thing as well. Try and be with people, let people know where you are, where you’re going to be.”

It is the same message shared by Hall, as News 4 asks how the city can better sell itself as a safe place to visit.

“There is no correlation between a perception of safety and an intent to visit,” said Hall. “People come here, visitors have no reluctance, no hesitation to come here for a tourism experience because they know that they need to be vigilant when they have a tourism experience in an urban area in the United States. St. Louis is no exception.”

More importantly, he says, is making sure the community highlights what makes St. Louis a vibrant region, which will draw in visitors and draws out safety concerns.

“We tell them about the amazing art scene, the vibrant sports activity that people can enjoy, and the signature aspect of our community is the warmth and hospitality of our St. Louisans,” said Hall.

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