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Cleveland summer tourism industry looking to bounce back after pandemic slump

With COVID restrictions soon to be lifted, Cleveland's hospitality & tourism industry is looking to bounce back from last year's bad numbers.

CLEVELAND — The state of Ohio is on the road to lifting COVID restrictions completely, and that's good news for residents and visitors alike looking to get back to normal and get out there and see Cleveland.

"We hear time and again that it’s the people that make the Cleveland experience," Emily Lauer of Destination Cleveland told 3News. "Thanks for bringing the power of travel back to reality after a very hard, hard year for our industry."

Lauer says Cleveland's tourism industry took a huge hit when the pandemic struck. She claims it’ll take the hotel industry three years to start making the kind of money they were making pre-COVID.

In 2019, Cleveland welcomed nearly 20 million visitors – more than 30% higher than just eight years before – and tourism brought in just shy of $10 billion dollars for the city. Not so in 2020, of course, but Lauer says 2021 should be a good year for tourism in Cleveland.

"I would say we have plenty to do that's gonna keep you busy and send you home having had a great time," she said. "Many people don’t realize we have beaches in Cleveland, we've got music, got some concerts coming back on the schedule, and of course we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [You can also] catch a Cleveland Indians game and then go out to League Park in the Hough neighborhood and learn about some of the baseball heritage."

The difference in tourism dollars between the $10 billion earned in 2019 and what was brought in after COVID hit in 2020 won’t be known until the numbers are tallied. That count should be completed by mid-summer.