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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Destination Cleveland Launches Initiative Encouraging Locals To Explore

Destination Cleveland is launching a campaign encouraging local residents to get out into the community and boost the local economy.

The Rediscover CLE initiative is phase two in the plan to aid Cleveland’s economy from the private non-profit convention and visitors bureau. It aims to encourage residents to explore the area safely in ways they’re comfortable with during the coronavirus pandemic, said CEO David Gilbert.

“For us, it really is not about combatting those fears because I think whatever people feel is right for them, is right,” Gilbert said. “It’s really important people follow these safety protocols that are put out by our county, by our state, and so on.”

Phase one, dubbed Clean Committed, asked local businesses to agree to uniform cleaning and safety standards to help prevent spread of the coronavirus, including the distribution of safety kids with sanitizer and disposable masks. The organization aims to distribute 300,000 kits.

The Rediscover CLE phase aims to make locals feel safe patronizing local businesses, Gilbert said, with a focus on those enrolled in Clean Committed.

“We’re trying to give them the tools so they know where to go, when to go, and how to go and begin to open up again,” Gilbert said. “But again, important to note, we’re not trying to get people to do anything they’re not comfortable with.”

That includes a resident guide with information on local businesses and experiences and a passport program in the Destination Cleveland app, sending locals on themed outings around town.

Rediscover CLE was originally slated to launch in June, Gilbert said, but was delayed by the spike in coronavirus cases and ongoing conversations about racial inequality.

After this phase, Destination Cleveland will focus on bringing outsiders to town, he said. That portion of the plan was initially scheduled to start this month, but has also been delayed.

“We’re almost taking it a week at a time, and looking at where the world is as it relates to COVID, and trying to make the right decisions at that time,” Gilbert said. “Quite frankly, we’ve decided there is no perfect timing and we’re just doing the best we can here.”

Efforts to improve safety and get the local economy back up on its feet could help future efforts to bring tourism back to Cleveland, he said.

“Health and safety in travel is now the new luxury, and it’s what people are going to be looking for more than ever before, by far more than ever before, in terms of the decision to travel.”

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