Oregon’s biggest city has ‘long way to go’ repairing its rep

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By Sara Cline

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland’s “badly damaged” reputation – marked by months of destructive protests, a homeless crisis and record year of homicides – is hurting the standing of Oregon’s largest city, according to the city’s main tourism promoter.

Travel Portland, the city’s tourism promotion group partly funded by taxes, presented data to the City Council and mayor this week showing the city has declined to its “lowest levels” of being a likely destination for delegates to attend conferences. Just 64% of surveyed tourists said they would visit Portland again.

“There’s an old old saying, ‘It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and you can ruin it in an instant.’ That’s true of cities, as it is people,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in response to the Travel Portland data. “And we’re just going to have to commit to that long term process of improving the safety and the livability and the economic prosperity of the city.”

The liberal city had long been known nationally for its ambrosial food scene, craft breweries and nature-loving hipsters. But last year, it became the epicenter of racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

While Portland’s violent protests have largely eased, there are still outbreaks— including earlier this month. Amid a vigil for a slain activist killed two years ago, a crowd of 100 people smashed storefront windows, ignited fires in dumpsters and caused at least $500,000 in damage to city buildings and businesses.