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If You Build It, Will They Come?

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POSTED: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 10:49pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 10:54pm

There's little doubt that the violence in Juarez is attracting national attention, but is negative perception keeping tourists away?

"We're just traveling around, we started in San Diego and we are going to southwest Florida," said Barbara Krohne. She and her husband are visiting from Germany. We asked them if the recent spillover violence from Juarez made them feel uneasy about visiting the Sun City.

"We didn't hear about it so, no," she said.

But not everyone is as fearless as the Krohnes.

"Relative to the violence, there obviously has to have been some negative impact on visitation or tourism," said Bill Blaziek, general manager of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, or the CVB. He says while there have been positive impacts like Fort Bliss, UTEP, and the bowling tournament, the violence is what people are talking about. And it's not only scaring away visitors, but big conventions, too.

"We have had those groups that have said candidly, let's wait until the violence settles down a bit on the border," he said.

"It was a big concern for a lot of the bowlers who came into town," said Andeline Rogers, vice president of Rave Marketing and Events. Rave Marketing helped promote the bowling tournament. She says as long as the violence continues, El Paso's image will continue to deteriorate.

"All of that's made national news, one right after another, so I think that the city has their work cut out for them at this point," Rogers said. And she says it's not just a job for the city anymore.

"It's kind of an uphill battle for the CVB, on a state level the governor and others need to get more involved."

But what is the city doing in terms of damage control? Blaziek says after El Paso was named an all-American city, he made sure the positive message spread to potential clients - fast.

"We've obviously had to accelerate our messaging," he said.

But one message seems to have been a bit stronger, and in a language that anyone can understand.

"She said don't go to Mexico so we wont do that," Krohne said.

The CVB also stands to lose about 5% of its budget after today's city council vote.

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