Photo by joiseyshowaa, Flickr CC
the local tourism bureau formerly known as Positively Cleveland, has some good news. According to the organization's "2014 Convention & Leisure Tourism Metrics Report,"
Cleveland tourism has reached record numbers. The report states that the Cleveland area tourism industry grew by 4.5 percent year over year in 2014, a five-year record increase, and boasted a visitor volume of 16.9 million people.
The return of LeBron James and the emergence of Cleveland as a destination for conventions and meetings contributed to this economic growth in the tourism industry, and Destination Cleveland has no problem admitting this. David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, wrote as much the foreword of the report.
"We can all look back at 2014 and recall the pride we felt when we learned the city landed the coveted 2016 Republican National Convention, and those of us in the tourism industry won’t soon forget earning the 2017 American Bus Association Conference," Gilbert said. "Of course, the return of LeBron James significantly added to the interest in our city."
The new convention center in Cleveland continues to pay dividends for the city. According to the report, hotel inventory increased by 2.7 percent in order to accommodate the expected visitors for conventions such as the big one, the RNC, and others such as Content Marketing World, Theatre Communications Group and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. These expected visitors caused a 70 percent increase in "definite" hotel nights from 2013 to 2014. Destination Cleveland expects the RNC to deliver approximately $200 million of direct spending in Cleveland based on the spending during the 2012 RNC in Tampa.
Conventions and hotels aside, Destination Cleveland understands the importance of word-of-mouth about Cleveland. The organization feels strongly that the RNC will only help visitors see the rehabilitated downtown and tell this story rather than stories like this.
Frankly, Cleveland has been the butt of so many jokes over the years that Destination Cleveland had to steer the narrative about the city out of the muck into the positive.
staff writer Sam Allard has pointed out
, there continues to be evidence that the narrative still sways more negative than positive; after all, Destination Cleveland continues to expect that the media in town for the RNC will help "change the narrative" of the Forest City on a a national scale.
This report, coupled with the statistics, do give Clevelanders a package of good news about their beloved city's past, present and future.