ST. LOUIS -- A tourism official trying to portray St. Louis as a safe place to visit ended up referring to part of the city as a place that would only be visited to purchase crack cocaine.
A research company, Morgan Quitno Press, called St. Louis the most dangerous city in the United States in October.
The public relations director for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, Mary Hendron, was trying to combat the perception of St. Louis as unsafe to Venues Today, a national trade publication which covers sports and entertainment facilities.
She was explaining that crime figures were skewed by high crime in neighborhoods that aren't tourist destinations.
"It's a bad part of town, but every city has a bad part of town," Hendron told Venues Today. "Frankly, the only reason anyone would go there would be to purchase crack cocaine."
Hendron said she wasn't referring to any particular neighborhood and she intended the remark to be off the record. The reporter for Venues Today, Dave Brooks, said he stands by his story and said Hendron never told him anything was off the record.
St. Louis officials argue that more than 1 million people live in suburbs outside the city and including them in studies would greatly dilute the overall crime rate. They argue that new lofts, restaurants and offices downtown show the city is safer than the study concluded.