Destination Cleveland Reports Record-Breaking Visitor Number

Cleveland - Destination Cleveland, the destination marketing and management organization for Cuyahoga County, has announced that 19.2 million people visited Cuyahoga County in 2018 for business and leisure travel, representing a 3.9 percent increase over 2017 and a 29 percent increase since 2011.

This surpasses the previous record of 18.5 million visitors set one year prior. For the eighth straight year, visitation to Cuyahoga County grew at a faster rate than the U.S. growth rate (1.9 percent in 2018) according to Tourism Economics.

Both day and overnight visitor volumes grew from 2017 to 2018 with day visits growing at 2.4 percent and overnight visits increasing by 5.9 percent. Day visitors represented 58 percent of the total number of visitors to the region, while 42 percent were overnight visitors. Since 2011, overnight visitation has grown by nearly 32 percent while day visitation increased by 26 percent[i].

Year over year, visitors continue to have an impact on the local economy. Travel and tourism in Cuyahoga County accounted for nearly $6.2 billion in direct sales and a total economic impact of $9.4 billion. The figures represent increases of 6.2 percent and 6.5 percent respectively over 2017 figures. The industry generated $1.2 billion in federal, state and local taxes, which resulted in a savings of more than $1,100 in taxes for each Cuyahoga County household. The industry also supported more than 71,000 jobs in Cuyahoga County, a 4.1 percent increase over 2017 and a 16.7 percent increase since 2011.  

“Five years after being launched, the Cleveland brand continues to deliver on what it was designed to do – help change perceptions and attract visitors to Cleveland; that success is helping Destination Cleveland in its effort to establish Cleveland as a destination city,” said David Gilbert, president and CEO, Destination Cleveland. “Once people come to Cleveland their perceptions continue to change for the better, and there is a greater chance that they would be more open to thinking of Cleveland as a place to live, work or invest. We need to take advantage of the growing number of travelers to Cuyahoga County and harness the power of the visitor to create long-term investments in the region.”

The growing number of visitors can be attributed, in part, to Destination Cleveland's efforts to improve and market the Cleveland visitor experience. Destination Cleveland's convention sales team achieved an 18 percent increase in 2018 in definite room night bookings, representing nearly 300,000 definite room nights for events in future years. In 2018, Destination Cleveland’s paid advertising, social media and earned media stories generated more than 1.4 billion impressions.

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