Yesterday at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, Destination Cleveland used its annual meeting to tout the city’s growth as a tourist destination. Apparently, people love coming here (though we imagine the influx is rather seasonal).
David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, and Dan Walsh, founder and CEO of Citymark and chairman of Destination Cleveland’s board of directors, both spoke extensively about the way in which city has evolved from a “visitor destination” to a “destination city,” a distinction we still don’t totally comprehend. But the numbers both men shared speak to the way Cleveland has begun to attract more tourists. In 2016, the city attracted some 18 million visitors. And locals feel better about the city too: In 2012, 34 percent of residents polled said they would recommend Cleveland as a destination city, but last year, a whopping 77 percent said they'd think of it as a worthwhile place to visit.
“A visitor is so much more than just a visitor,” says Gilbert in a statement released in the wake of the big event. “And while destination marketing changes perceptions and helps attract people, organizations like ours do not do the job of site selection, recruiting students, attracting talent or attracting venture capital. Instead, [Destination Marketing and Management Organizations] help to improve a city’s narrative, which makes it easier for other organizations to do their work. As a DMMO, we will do this by getting more visitors to the city and working with our local partners to provide experiences that deliver value and differentiate Cleveland from other cities.”
Walsh detailed the increase in tourists visiting Cleveland and cited a recent National Geographic
article that named Cleveland among the top places to visit in 2018 as he outlined a plan to attract 20 million visitors by 2020.
After the various powerpoint presentations, local rockers the Falling Stars [pictured] plugged in for a two-hour set while guests enjoyed an open bar and food spread.