March 27, 2020
Emily Lauer, Destination Cleveland
(March 27, 2020) – Destination Cleveland
, the destination marketing and management organization for Cuyahoga County, announced today that it is modifying its organizational priorities and streamlining operations for the foreseeable future due to the unparalleled impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry. As the local steward of one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, the organization’s primary funding source – lodging occupancy tax – has contracted to less than 10 percent of what was estimated for 2020.
A recently released U.S. Travel Association study
predicts a 34 percent decline in the U.S. travel industry for 2020 as a result of COVID-19, including the loss of 4.7 million direct travel jobs and a loss of $62 billion in federal, state and local taxes. The effect in Cuyahoga and surrounding counties remains undetermined but will be significant.
“With the sudden end of nearly all travel, hotel occupancy diminished to single digits, and we, along with so many of our peers around the country, are in an unprecedented situation,” said David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland. “Just a month ago we announced that our primary initiatives would be to continue to deliver on our mission of attracting visitors and to amplify the impact of their work by getting visitors to consider Cleveland as a place to live and work. With the loss of our funding, we must now focus on new goals, the most important of which are organizational survival and compassion for our people. Acting now is necessary so that Destination Cleveland can emerge from this unprecedented time strong and ready to act.”
As a result of this situation, which appears unchangeable for months, the organization’s revised goals focus on five core areas:
- organizational survival
- compassion for our people
- support for partners and the entire industry
- leveraging opportunities, where appropriate and
- readiness to gear back up
To accomplish its new priorities, Destination Cleveland will streamline its operations through a combination of budget reducing efforts, including staff hours reductions and furloughs.
“As we navigate the pandemic and its effect on our industry, two things do not change: our commitment to our staff and our commitment to the community,” Gilbert continued. “While we’ve had to make extremely difficult decisions, we remain dedicated to supporting our team in any way we can. That is our top priority. Our goal is to bring our employees back as soon as the situation allows.”
To help Cleveland’s tourism industry businesses and individuals who are affected by this crisis, Destination Cleveland will provide community support, advocacy and leadership to bring back Cleveland’s travel and tourism industry and get the community back on its feet as soon as possible. It recently launched an online toolkit
with national, state and local resources for both its partners and all local tourism industry businesses seeking information during this time. The organization will continue to define the efforts it will undertake to help address the needs of the travel and tourism community.
ABOUT DESTINATION CLEVELAND: Destination Cleveland is Cleveland’s destination marketing and management organization. This private, non-profit organization’s mission is to drive economic impact and stimulate community vitality for Greater Cleveland through leisure and business travel. Cleveland welcomes 19.2 million visitors annually. For more information, visit www.thisiscleveland.com.