MetroHealth System, University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic are collaborating with city officials and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health on a multiphase marketing campaign designed to "kick-start" the hospitality industry and reopen Cleveland to both residents and visitors.
The program, called "Undefeated" and scheduled to launch June 3, was designed to help the region's businesses emerge as quickly and safely as possible from the COVID-19 crisis, according to David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, a not-for-profit group that works to attract conventions and tourists.
"Ongoing consumer research is showing that trips to see family and friends will lead when travel resumes. Helping to ensure locals are inspired to get back out when they feel comfortable is vital so they can then encourage visitation from family and friends at an appropriate time," Gilbert said.
The three phases — Responsibly Reopen and Commit, Rediscover and Reconnect, and Remind and Recover — will roll out over the next three months, but only "if the public health experts remain supportive of responsible activity resumption," Gilbert said.
Tourism since the pandemic shuttered nonessential businesses statewide is running at about 10% of 2019. Estimates are the hospitality industry may not see 2019 levels until 2024-25, according to Gilbert.
Mayor Frank Jackson stressed it's important to create a responsible and sustainable strategy to reopen the economy.
"Our focus in Cleveland is how to do it right," he said.
The program first requests that companies commit to operating in accordance with safety guidelines provided by Destination Cleveland and produced in partnership with medical professionals from The MetroHealth System, University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
The second and third phases of the campaign will focus on residents, first with an online effort called #MyWordMyCLE that asks residents to share how they can help businesses make customers feel safe and then encourages them to invite family and friends to visit in August.