|Tami Brown, VP of Marketing for Positively Cleveland - Photo Bob Perkosk|
From a feature on tourism in freshwatercleveland.com:
Last year, Cuyahoga County raked in $5.9 billion in economic impact by welcoming 14 million visitors who, in turn, supported 61,000 jobs. If we zoom out to the entire 17-county "Cleveland Plus" area, those numbers soar to 30 million visitors, 163,000 jobs, and $13 billion in economic impact.
The biggest tourism story of 2014 may just be the Gay Games, which is projected to net $60 million for the local economy.
"The number one thing an LGBT tourist is looking for is a destination that is welcoming," says Brown. To that end, Positively Cleveland has been rolling out the rainbow-colored welcome mat to gay tourists since 2007, when they published their first LGBT Visitor's Guide. The brochure focuses on many of the same regional assets -- world-class dining, museums, theatre, live music -- but in an inclusive manner. Brown believes that single gesture helped snag those coveted Gay Games.
What Clevelanders often overlook as one our most valuable albeit intangible assets is our authenticity. Born of rough-hewn Rust Belt history, steeped in an undying devotion to heartbreaking sports teams, and spiked with the hardcore riffs of rock and roll, authenticity is a quality that can not be manufactured -- nor faked.