CHICAGO (CBS) — As Chicago strives to boost tourism, it faces a growing national reputation for gun-related violence that has gotten out of control.

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, the city is facing a challenge selling itself to vacationers.

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Before the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce today, Mayor Emanuel focused on the positive about tourism.

“We went from 39 million visitors to just last year 53 million visitors to the City of Chicago,” he said.

But growing violence poses an increasing threat to Chicago’s glittering reputation.

Last weekend, there was a homicide at 24th and Michigan, just a stone’s throw away from 40,000 oncologists meeting at McCormick Place.

“There’s no doubt that a wave of violence is going to tarnish Chicago’s reputation,” said Chamber Of Commerce CEO Theresa Mintle.

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It’s a reputation that’s going national: The New York Times called weekend Chicago gunfire a terrifying norm.

Manny Sanchez, an attorney and businessman, says, so far, the violence hasn’t had an impact on tourism and convention business but “if we don’t do something about it soon, it has to have a negative impact.”

Enter the city’s new tourism director, David Whitaker, who’s taking leadership of Choose Chicago.

He says the tourism industry reduces crime by producing jobs, up to 140,000 of them.

“The visitor industry can play a significant role in creating prosperity, economic opportunity and opportunities for people to participate in our business,” Whitaker said.

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David Whittaker, who headed up tourism for Miami, Toronto, and finally, for the United States as a whole with the Obama administration, will earn $380,000 in his role here in Chicago.