CLEVELAND — Destination Cleveland is hosting its annual strategy meeting Monday, July 11. The meeting is set to start at 4 p.m. with announcements centered around Cleveland’s evolution, according to Destination Cleveland CEO, David Gilbert.
Over nearly a decade, Destination Cleveland says there's been enormous growth throughout the city well above the national average. Though of course, the pandemic was a major setback.
“The industry was really devastated,” said Gilbert.
In 2020, Cuyahoga County saw 13.8 million visitors, which was down 30% from 2019 and down just 2% (32%) from the decline seen nationwide with U.S. domestic visitation. The economic impact in the county slid to $7.1 billion, which was a 27% drop.
“Thankfully, we are seeing an incredibly strong recovery,” Gilbert said.
According to Gilbert, Cleveland is bouncing back at a rate that is ahead of other cities nationwide.
“Most places are looking at late , early  until everything is back to pre-pandemic levels, but we're getting close and we're seeing great signs in certain parts of the industry are coming back faster than others.”
Gilbert says the boost is thanks to events hosted in the land like NBA All-Star which brought more than 120,000 visitors and nearly $250 million. In addition, the NFL Draft generated a $42-million economic impact and 160,000 visitors.
“They couldn't have happened at a better time. Also, [it] just showed to the rest of the country, the rest of the world what an amazing community this is for hosting major events,” Gilbert said.
Now, the focus is on keeping the momentum going in an effort to attract more visitors and new residents to live in the land with a new visitor rebranding strategy.
“We're a different community than we were eight years ago. So, we wanted to revisit how Clevelanders think of their community, how our communities change, how others outside of Cleveland think of our community,” Gilbert said. “We're going to talk about some really exciting things later this afternoon about how locals can really get involved and tell their stories of their Cleveland.”