The very public violence that's plaguing the Vancouver region is now getting international attention.

A scathing article published by a prominent London newspaper is being condemned by Vancouver's mayor as a cheap shot to our reputation as he seeks to defend the Vancouver brand.

Gang-style murders like the one Saturday night are the kind of images people have been seeing of the city since the latest spate of shootings began in January. When you map it out -- there are very few areas untouched by the bloodshed -- and 24 murders since January 1st alone.

The headline in Britain's Sunday Independent newspaper on April 5 read: "From heaven to hell: 18 die as drugs war rages on streets of Vancouver."

The story was a scathing look at Vancouver's slide from the best place to live to "blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses."

One tourist said they believed Vancouver to be a safe city since they arrived.

"From what we've read we would assume [Vancouver would] be quite a safe city. That's why we're here..."

But she added they might have thought twice if confronted with such a story.

Marketing experts say politicians and tourism officials should take this very seriously.

"Reality doesn't matter a damn, perception is everything," says Lindsay Meredith, a Simon Fraser University marketing expert.

"This kind of coverage can blow away a lot of very hard work in advertising, in developing those overseas connections, in presenting Vancouver as a brand that is a very desirable end market."

Vancouver's mayor, Gregor Robertson, was a little plainer with his language.

"I think it's a bit of a cheap shot," he said.

But while he might not like the article, Robertson doesn't dispute its message or its potential impact.

"We have to stop the current violence and get back to what people know Vancouver as which is a peaceful, safe city. That has to be our goal urgently working towards that has to be top priority."

So it seems officials have their work cut out to keep Vancouver's image from becoming the latest victim of metro Vancouver's raging gang war.

To read the Sunday Independent's story click here.

With a report CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart.