CLEVELAND — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine toured the state Wednesday to promote Ohio Tourism Day and stopped in Northeast Ohio at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
"Tourism is essential, very, very important to the state," DeWine said. "And nowhere is it more important than our north coast where people come to fish, they come to walk, hike, they come to sail, they come just to have fun."
DeWine pointed to more than half of adult Ohioans that are vaccinated as part of the reason why he's optimistic for an economic rebound this summer.
"We continue to vaccinate people within the next few days," he said. "We hope to start vaccinating those who are 12 years of age and older, and we hope by the fall to be able to vaccinate virtually everybody in the state of Ohio. So it's an exciting summer."
After a decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, officials are hoping that golf plays a key role in tourism recovery in 2021.
The Buckeye state hosts six professional tournaments this summer, including the Bridgestone Senior player’s Championship in Akron. To attract attention to the tournaments, Tourism Ohio created the “golf trail” to showcase the communities they are held in as travel destinations that tourists can return to.
Recent events like the NFL Draft in Cleveland have provided a much-needed shot in the arm to Ohio’s economy as 50,000 fans each day came to see the draft and fan experience outside of First Energy Stadium.
Beauty shots showing the city of Cleveland dominated the coverage of last week’s NFL Draft.
"Think about it, that shot was seen over the weekend by over 40 million viewers," Destination Cleveland President and CEO David Gilbert "It’s unbelievable. For people seeing around the country, this great city [that] looked so beautiful, seeing people visiting here safely, partying here safely, visiting here safely, it's going to make other people want to come here."
Gilbert told News 5 they are still calculating the tens of millions of dollars injected into the economy because of the NFL Draft.
Next year’s NBA All-Star game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse highlights another big-ticket event that will draw tens of thousands of sports fans to Northeast Ohio.
Tourism is a $46 billion industry for the state and numbers released by Ohio in 2019 show more than ten percent of our sales tax revenue comes from tourism. The tourism industry also supports more than 400,000 jobs.
Numbers that experts said finally look within reach, after a week of hosting the NFL.
"People finally felt this was a thing leading us back to normalcy," Gilbert said.
A new survey from research company Longwoods International shows 88% of U.S. travelers have travel plans in the next six months.
Given tourism’s importance in Ohio’s economy, transportation investments by the state that ensure safe and reliable access for visitors could contribute to economic growth.
This is underscored in 2016’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which requires states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to consider enhancing travel and tourism as a factor in their transportation planning processes.
Currently, ODOT supports the travel and tourism industry by providing tourists information (e.g. maps, online traffic updates, tourist-oriented directional signs, scenic byway trip planning resources) and offering support to those in the travel and tourism industry.
While the NFL Draft is over, the season is just beginning for Ohio’s tourism bureau: "Ohio. Find It Here.," which recently launched a $4 million campaign through June, highlighting what Ohio has to offer.
"This is the year we can help the industry recover," Matt MacLaren with Ohio. Find It Here., said. "It’s the first time since the pandemic started we’re marketing to visitors outside the state of Ohio."
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