Plans To Strengthen Cleveland As A Visitor Destination Announced

Leaders Showcase Outcomes of Travel + Tourism Summit

Cleveland (March 27, 2012) – As the region welcomes more than $2 billion in visitor-related infrastructure, growth and development, key leaders in the local tourism and hospitality industries have joined forces to improve the overall visitor experience to Cleveland.

Led by Positively Cleveland, an economic development organization dedicated to creating economic vitality for Northeast Ohio through travel and tourism, these efforts have culminated with the Outcomes Launch of the Destination Cleveland Travel + Tourism Summit.

“Today’s launch is just the beginning of a five-year plan that will focus on continuously addressing and improving the overall visitor experience,” David Gilbert, CEO and President of Positively Cleveland said. “The uniqueness of our plan lies in its approach to collaboration and engagement of various community organizations. Put simply, we can’t do this alone.”

The information released at the Outcomes Launch was the result of the Destination Cleveland Travel + Tourism Summit, which was held Nov. 2, 2011. At this event, some of Cleveland’s most notable leaders gathered to create an agenda for how Cleveland looks, acts and feels as a travel destination.

In attendance at the November summit were more than 200 community ambassadors representing various tourism-related industries including attractions, area convention and visitors bureaus, government officials, hotels, neighborhood organizations, non-profits and more.

Led by Cleveland-based Appreciative Inquiry consultants, this group of key leaders and ambassadors were engaged in a day of open dialogue, creative brainstorming and action planning to determine how to improve the overall visitor experience. (To view clips from the summit, visit

Also at the summit, several key leaders came together to sign the “Destination Declaration,” a pledge to work cooperatively to implement the outcomes of the summit. Signers of the document included County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Downtown Cleveland Alliance President and CEO Joseph Marinucci, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority General Manager Joseph Calabrese, University Circle Inc. President Chris Ronayne, ParkWorks Executive Director Ann Zoller, and Positively Cleveland President and CEO David Gilbert.

After defining the ideal future for Cleveland’s travel and tourism industry, participants identified 11 key opportunity areas, which were merged and summarized into six areas for strategic focus including (1) connectivity + wayfinding, (2) first impressions + hospitality, (3) attraction bundling + packaging, (4) locals as ambassadors, (5) signature events and (6) public transportation. 

Four of the six key opportunity areas will be led by Positively Cleveland with the support of the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and other strategic partners. The remaining areas will be led by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) and supported by Positively Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and other strategic partners.


  • LED BY: Positively Cleveland
  • GOAL: To connect visitors to Cleveland, its neighborhoods and its attractions using signs, maps, and other graphic or audible methods to convey location and direction
  • OTHER OPPORTUNITY AREAS: Technology and Access to Natural Resources
  • Downtown Wayfinding Campaign – Downtown Cleveland Alliance
    • Navigating easily through Cleveland is a major part of downtown revitalization. Furthermore, a fundamental goal of wayfinding is to provide effective information and destination directions for visitors.
    • The City of Cleveland and Downtown Cleveland Alliance have developed 44 key signage locations strategically placed in downtown Cleveland. The Downtown Cleveland Trailblazer Sign System guides visitors to destinations on high-traffic routes and uses bold blue and red colors to establish a brand and identity for the wayfinding system.  The signs direct visitors and residents to destinations and districts/neighborhoods within downtown Cleveland.
  •  Group Plan + Access to Natural Resources – City of Cleveland
    • A Group Plan Commission, appointed by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson in June 2010, is charged with creating a unified vision for signature public spaces that will link major projects like the Flats East Bank development, the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center and the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. City Planning Commission Chair Anthony J. Coyne chairs this commission.
    • On Feb. 10, 2011, the Group Plan Commission presented recommendations to Mayor Jackson to create a unified vision for Public Square and the Malls with enhanced connections linking Cleveland’s unique downtown districts, along with strategies for building, financing and managing the programming of these signature public spaces. These recommendations were developed during 40 working group sessions and eight full commission meetings. Learn more at


  • LED BY: Positively Cleveland 
  • GOAL: To improve visitor first impressions by educating the local hospitality community to be ambassadors of Cleveland in a cohesive, consistent manner  
  • OTHER OPPORTUNITY AREAS: Technology and Hospitality 
  • First Impressions + Hospitality Advisory Committee - Positively Cleveland
    • A First Impressions and Hospitality Advisory Committee, comprised of 20 key hospitality and tourism stakeholders, was formed in March. The goal of this committee is to support and guide Positively Cleveland’s efforts to educate and encourage front line and concierge staff personnel to become Cleveland ambassadors in a cohesive, consistent manner – thus improving the first impressions and hospitality for visitors to Cleveland.
    • The committee includes the following representatives: Marcus Glover, Horseshoe Casino; Brad Hirsch, Horseshoe Casino; Katie Klonowski, PuraVida by Brandt; Bob Megazzini, Marriott; Todd Mesek, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum; Todd Payne, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport; Dedrick Stephens, City of Cleveland; Brian Casey, Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center; Valarie McCall, City of Cleveland; Campbell Black, InterContinental Hotels; Sam Lindsley, Symon Live; Joseph Mattioli, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland; and Chris Ronayne, University Circle, Inc.
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Walk of Fame -  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
    • In conjunction with the City of Cleveland and key downtown stakeholders, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame during the 2012 Induction Week Celebration. This project will leverage the marketing equity of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland’s long-standing musical legacy to connect downtown districts, highlight Cleveland as the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World” and raise funds for future induction ceremonies in Cleveland. Collectively, the more than 270 plaques will create a powerful citywide connector on par with the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.


  • LED BY: Positively Cleveland 
  • GOAL: To allow visitors to easily purchase tickets for multiple Cleveland attractions 
  •  aRes Travel System - Positively Cleveland
    • In January 2012, Positively Cleveland launched the aRes travel system on This reservation and ticketing software allows visitors to purchase air, hotel, car rental and attraction tickets in an integrated shopping cart environment. In short, this program offers visitors a one-stop-shop to book their entire trip to Cleveland by allowing them to bundle attractions and transportation and then pay just one price.


  • LED BY: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA)
  • GOAL: To make public transportation one of the preferred modes of transportation for visitors to Cleveland
  • RTA Tourism Pass, Tourism Brochure + New Trolley Hours - Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority       
    • RTA established several goals as a result of the November 2011 Travel + Tourism Summit which included: (1) offering an unlimited transit pass for 1-4 days; (2) expanding the downtown trolley routes and extending the hours of the downtown trolley schedule to better accommodate visitors; (3) promoting the tourist transit pass to hotels and other events; and (4) establishing Cleveland as a public transportation-friendly destination.
    • These goals will improve connectivity for visitors, make it easy for visitors to use RTA and continue to make public transportation the preferred mode of transportation for visitors.
    • The status of these projects:
      • Connectivity: Encouraging visitors to use the Red Line connection between Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Downtown Business District, the HealthLine connection between Downtown and University Circle and the trolley connection around Downtown.
      • Trolleys: Three new routes begin in mid-May: C-Line on evenings, L-Line on weekends and M-Line on East Ninth Street commuters during rush hours.
      • Easily Accessible Information: New easy-to-read trolley destination signs with QR codes. Redesigned map/information signs, Next Connect Signs, more tourism-related collateral materials, and RTA’s Tourist Travel Guide. All items ready this spring.
      • The Cleveland Pass: One day for $5; two days for $10; four days for $20. The pass will be sold in places where visitors frequent and will be available this spring.


  • LED BY: Positively Cleveland
  • GOAL: To provide visitors with an authentic Cleveland experience through the eyes of local residents
  • OTHER OPPORTUNITY AREAS: Technology, Civic Pride, Local Youth Outreach and Education
  • Future/Ongoing Project


  • LED BY: Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA)
  • GOAL: To attract visitors to Cleveland through signature events 
  • Future/Ongoing Project


Moving forward, Positively Cleveland will ensure that the organizations and leaders who have pledged their support continue to create ways to address and improve the identified opportunity areas over the course of the next five years. Additional “wins” will be released and celebrated, collaboration will be continuously encouraged and consideration of the overall visitor experience will be a factor in new development.

For more information about the Destination Cleveland Travel + Tourism Outcomes Launch and to stay engaged, visit