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Detroit Tourism Discouraged by Mayor's Jailing

By John Gallagher and Tom Walsh, Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 7, 2008 - Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, was wooing out-of-town business leaders at the PGA golf championship this morning when news broke of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's jailing.

"I'm a little depressed," Alexander said. "It's very discouraging that this happens in the same week as this major event, the PGA Championship, when we have hundreds of media and visitors from all over the world. Lots of work has gone into making this a special week for Detroit and the region."

"No question, people are asking about it," Alexander added.

"The local media pay a lot more attention to the mayor story than the visiting media," Alexander said. "We can't hide from it, but the Number 1 thing for most people here is the golf tournament."

The convention bureau has a special exhibit called "The D Experience" at its promotional tent, and provided golf lessons and electronic gaming to visiting media earlier in the week.

So far, business leaders who have mostly withheld public comment on the mayor's legal problems remained unwilling to call for his resignation.

Both the Detroit Renaissance corporate leadership group and the Detroit Regional Chamber today called the mayor's jailing a distraction from the work of rebuilding Detroit's economy. But neither group went beyond that as of mid-afternoon.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Detroit Free Press

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