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Capital News: Trip to Hawaii? Why not Cleveland?

By MARC KOVAC GateHouse statehouse bureau Published: May 15, 2017 10:32 AM

COLUMBUS -- Remember that time the governor urged people to consider Ohio for their vacation destinations, rather than heading to exotic places outside of the state's borders?

"We are stressing stay-cations in Ohio this year," he told a crowd.

No, not that governor.

The former one, Ted Strickland, said that back in 2009, as the economy was heading toward the nether regions and people were getting shorter and shorter on cash.

"Many people in our state and quite frankly throughout our nation are having difficult economic times," Strickland said as part of opening ceremonies and his tour of that year's State Fair. " We want people who maybe in the past have traveled to distant places, costly places, to decide to spend their family vacation right here at the great Ohio State Fair."

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He added, "This is a good value for a family vacation. It's close to home, it's not nearly as costly as buying an airplane ticket and going to some costly hotel somewhere."

And, "We need to encourage it. There's much to see in Ohio by way of historical venues and other kinds of entertainment for families and for all Ohioans. Ohio is really blessed -- we have great professional sports teams, wonderful college teams, we have historical sites, great museums, orchestras, natural beauty that is unparalleled."

I thought about Strickland's comments from eight years ago -- has it really been that long? -- the other day, during now-Gov. John Kasich's appearance at a tourism event on the Statehouse grounds.

Economic trends aside, it's appropriate for the state's chief executive to tout Ohio as a destination. Kasich's been doing that throughout his two terms in office.

And with good reason: According to the latest statistics from the state, some 212 million visitors spend $43 billion in Ohio and support 427,000 tourism-related jobs.

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Kasich noted last year's GOP National Convention, the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA championship and other events that have helped draw attention to Ohio.

"It brings people in," he told the crowd on Capitol Square. " I travel around and promote Ohio all over the country. People bring it up When they came here, they had such a great time. They saw things that the didn't know much about.

"And for somebody who likes not to have to get on an airplane to go somewhere, the great thing about our state is that we offer so many things There are so many things in our state that are really cool."

Kasich recounted a trip to Lake Erie, up in Vermilion.

"I took pictures up there and sent them to my wife and said guess where I am?" he said. "The fact of the matter is there's so much undiscovered in our state, so much beauty, so much opportunity to have fun After the Republican convention,

"I had a lot of fun with people as I've traveled around the country, and I say after the convention and people saw Cleveland and saw it in a much different way, they say to their spouse, 'Well honey, we're going to go on vacation. Should we go to Maui and Hawaii or should we go to Cleveland?' And Cleveland's starting to work out."

Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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