For more than nine years in a row, Cuyahoga County’s travel and tourism industry has logged record-setting growth rates in visitation. Buoyed by new hotels, restaurants, the unveiling of the redesigned Public Square, and the securing of major events such as the RNC, the MLB All-Star Game, and NFL Draft, the region’s visitation has continually increased at a pace faster than that of the nation. As such Destination Cleveland, the nonprofit convention and visitors bureau, was on pace to reach the previously announced goal of bringing 20 million visitors to Cleveland in 2020. And then, the coronavirus pandemic arrived.
The travel and tourism industry was one of, if not, the hardest hit industry in the U.S. and the world. As states locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, travel and tourism was at a virtual standstill. From February through September, leisure and hospitality represented 36 percent of the country’s job losses. Nearly a quarter of industry jobs remain lost and travel and tourism revenue is predicted to be down 45 percent (nearly $400 billion) in 2020.
How can the travel and tourism industry survive until the pandemic subsides? What does that mean on a national, regional and local scale? What can - and should - Destination Cleveland and other organizations do to safely attract visitors to Cleveland to help revive the county’s struggling economy? Looking ahead, how will the pandemic change travel? And are we prepared to adapt to those changes?
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