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Effort aimed at drawing more visitors to Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — Tourism officials are hoping a rebranding effort in Cleveland will draw more business and leisure visitors and highlight the city's underappreciated attractions.

The campaign seeks to "change the narrative about Cleveland as a visitors' destination," David Gilbert, chief of the city's tourism bureau, said Wednesday.

The tourism bureau, called Positively Cleveland, is targeting people ages 25 to 34 because they don't have their parents' hang-ups about the city and are most open to coming here to visit.

But they say the outreach will be spread across different age groups, from those who appreciate arts and culture to families who are drawn by the affordability.

The campaign has spent nearly $2.4 million figuring out what outsiders think about the city, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported (http://bit.ly/1qYuujg ).

Out-of-towners say they associate Cleveland more with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Cleveland Browns, Gilbert said. They need to be introduced to the other things that make Cleveland worth a visit.

"What we think people know about Cleveland they don't really know," he said.

The effort also includes, for example, posting signs and recruiting ambassadors to help first-time visitors figure out how to get to, say, University Circle or Market Garden Brewery & Distillery.

"It's all about being authentic and embracing ourselves and just doing what we do well, which is being Cleveland," said Len Komoroski, chief executive of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena.

The new campaign coincides with the city's bid to lure the 2016 Republican National Convention. Columbus and Cincinnati also are vying for the event.

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