Scaring away tourism: Why Portland may be getting a bad reputation

Scaring away tourism: Why Portland may be getting a bad reputation »Play Video
KATU photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Is Portland's reputation as a safe city taking a hit? Is our homeless problem costing the city millions in lost business?

Those are the concerns that are being raised after two incidents involving out-of-towners.

One was an assault on a man from Arkansas whose job is to schedule conferences. He was here in Portland over the summer and was beat up on our streets - he even ended up with a broken rib. Mayor Charlie Hales was so alarmed at what happened that he called the man to apologize on behalf of the city.

"To have a visitor here go home with a black eye, that hurts," Hales said. "I don't want to see that."

Before that, a group of women looking to book the Oregon Convention Center had a run-in with an aggressive panhandler who followed them onto a MAX train, got off at the same stop they did and then followed them into the Convention Center.

The women, who were thoroughly alarmed, ended up taking their business elsewhere and Portland missed out on $2.9 million that would have been pumped into our economy.

"The client felt very uneasy and that was definitely a deciding factor in why they chose not to bring their convention to Portland," said Megan Conway with Travel Portland.

Portland's mayor knows there are problems on our streets and that's part of the reason he has been putting so much effort into finding a new location for the controversial Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp.

"If we have a mental health system, and we do in the state of Oregon, that's a failure, those folks will wander by here (the Right 2 Dream Too camp)," said Hales. "These problems, these societal failures, get visited at life on street level in the city. It's my job, and anybody else's job in city government, to try to bring people together to solve those problems with our own hands and own own resources. And that's what we're going to try to do."

If there's a story you think our investigators should dig into, we want to hear from you. Send us an email at