CLEVELAND (WJW)– As COVID-19 continues to grind the tourism industry to a halt across the country and around the world, Cleveland is fighting back.
A major initiative is underway to not only save businesses, but to reschedule many of the major events that were canceled because of the pandemic.
“It has devastated parts of our economy since mid-March. Every significant convention has been canceled for the year, seven national sporting events, including NCAA basketball canceled, you know, shortened the Indians season, shortened the Cavs season. Hopefully, there is a Browns season,” Gilbert said. “But we will end up rescheduling six of them for future years for Cleveland.”
After seeing research that found consumers need “visual assurances of cleanliness and sanitation,” Destination Cleveland launched an innovative program called Clean Committed.
Destination Cleveland united the Cuyahoga Department of Health with the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth System to create a set of cleanliness and hospitality standards, which businesses can agree to follow.
“It shows a lot of solidarity within Cleveland, but also as people will decide where to travel when the time comes it will really show our community has it’s act together,” Gilbert said.
The business names are listed on Destination Cleveland’s website and app so people know where they can go for good clean service. Signs are also posted in the businesses windows to let customers know they’re Clean Committed.
Already, 300 restaurants, hotels and tourism venues signed up, and they expect to have 1,000 soon. Businesses can also obtain “clean kits,” which are intended to be provided to patrons, and contain masks, hand sanitizer and safety tips.
“Helping those businesses get back on their feet faster by helping locals feel more safe and secure, which will ultimately translate into more visitors when the time comes” Gilbert said.
Everyone will be ready when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony finally happens next year, said Gilbert. The NFL Draft is also still set for April 2021 and the NBA All-Star game will happen the following year.
On Tuesday, Gilbert revealed that the program is already paying off and the city is being considered for yet another major international event.
“I can’t talk about yet, but if we get it, it would be a major multi-sport event with people from 60-plus countries coming into Cleveland,” Gilbert said. “I believe when we look back three years, five years, eight years down the road, we’re going to see some great things that came out of how we dealt with this.”