Destination Cleveland gears up for annual industry meeting

CLEVELAND – Destination Cleveland is hosting its annual strategy meeting on Monday, July 11. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. with announcements centered on Cleveland’s developments, according to Destination Cleveland CEO David Gilbert.

Over nearly a decade, Destination Cleveland says there has been tremendous growth across the city well above the national average. Of course, the pandemic has been a major setback.

“The industry has been really devastated,” Gilbert said.

In 2020, Cuyahoga County welcomed 13.8 million visitors, down 30% from 2019 and down only 2% (32%) from the decline seen nationwide with the domestic tours in the United States. The economic impact in the county dropped to $7.1 billion, a 27% decline.

“Fortunately, we are seeing an incredibly strong recovery,” Gilbert said.

According to Gilbert, Cleveland is rebounding at a faster rate than other cities across the country.

“Most places watch late [2023]early [2024] until everything gets back to pre-pandemic levels, but we’re getting closer and we’re seeing big signs in some parts of the industry coming back faster than others.

Gilbert says the boost is due to events held around the country like NBA All-Star which drew more than 120,000 visitors and nearly $250 million. Additionally, the NFL Draft generated an economic impact of $42 million and 160,000 visitors.

“They couldn’t have come at a better time. Also, [it] just showed the rest of the country, the rest of the world what an amazing community it is to host major events,” Gilbert said.

Now the focus is on maintaining momentum with the aim of attracting more visitors and new residents to live in the country through a new visitor rebranding strategy.

“We are a different community than we were eight years ago. So we wanted to revisit how Clevelandans feel about their community, how our communities are changing, how others outside of Cleveland feel about our community,” Gilbert said. “We’re going to talk about some really exciting stuff later this afternoon about how locals can really get involved and tell their stories of their Cleveland.”

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