CLEVELAND (WJW) – Destination Cleveland, the non-profit convention and visitors bureau, laid out plans Tuesday night to help bring visitors back to the city.
“This industry has been through such difficult times over the past 17 months,” said president and CEO David Gilbert.
The organization shared its 2020 achievements along with plans for the future during its annual meeting at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
According to Gilbert, last year was projected to bring 20 million visitors to the region.
Then, the pandemic hit. According to Destination Cleveland, Cuyahoga County registered 13 million visits in 2020, down 30 percent from the year before.
“The pipeline and faucet of visitors just shut off. The world and everything we work with just shut down,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert said the organization shifted from promoting growth to helping local businesses survive.
“How do we work on locals getting out to discover their community? How do we promote clean practices?” said Gilbert.
While the pandemic is ongoing, Destination Cleveland is shifting back to a growth strategy, which includes a racial equity and inclusion roadmap to help attract workers from other cities.
Something else that will change is the way they look.
Destination Cleveland also announced it is re-branding the visitor logo, something that will change in the first half of next year.
“The numbers are starting to go up as well. We are starting to book hotels and conventions again. Hotel occupancy is starting to creep up to pre-pandemic levels but we still have a ways to go,” Gilbert said.
Destination Cleveland said the local tourism industry is not expected to recover until 2024.