Regional Gateway Will Promote Local Attractions, Food and Beverage
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the Hudson Valley/Catskills Welcome Center, located at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, Orange County. The state-of-the-art Welcome Center, one of 11 being built across the state, will serve as a modern gateway to the Hudson Valley and Catskills vacation regions, supporting New York State's commitment to growing regional economies and promoting local tourism, foods and craft beverages across the state.
"The Hudson Valley and Catskills regions are home to some of the most sought-after destinations in the state, and this Welcome Center will help highlight those exciting attractions and drive even more tourism to the area," Governor Cuomo said. "This investment will attract new and returning visitors and continue to bolster the region's economy for decades to come."
"The Hudson Valley and the Catskills regions attract visitors year-round for its attractions and recreational activities," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This new Welcome Center will serve as a gateway to the area, and continue to grow the economy by increasing tourism and offering local food and beverage options. The transformation of welcome centers across the state will open the door to more visitors and showcase the best New York has to offer."
Regional tourism is at the core of the Hudson Valley/Catskills Welcome Center, located in the Woodbury Common Market Hall building. Visitors are welcomed by a 270-degree wraparound video screen that highlights local tourism attractions and destinations. In addition, interactive I LOVE NY kiosks allow visitors to test their knowledge of the region or design a trip itinerary, and a large floor map outlines the two regions. An artifact wall features specially-curated items showcasing the region's heritage and a Taste NY market will feature locally grown and sourced products from across the regions.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County will operate the Taste NY Market, which will offer locally-made food and gifts like artisanal jams, maple products, honey, chips and crackers, granola, organic skin and hair care products, and New York State wooden serving ware. The shop will also sell I LOVE NY merchandise, including shirts, magnets and travel mugs. The New York producers currently featured at the Welcome Center are listed here.
Outside the Center, a large I LOVE NY sculpture provides visitors with an iconic spot for group photos and selfies. A Walk of Fame recognizes famous New Yorkers from the regions, and a patio offers café seating.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Hudson Valley/Catskills Welcome Center showcases the history, heritage and world-class tourism assets of these two picturesque vacation regions, inviting shoppers and visitors to find what they love here and across New York State."
State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Taste NY continues to be central to the State's efforts to promote our farms and food and beverage businesses from across New York State, including from the Hudson Valley and Catskills. This region is well known for its bounty of agriculture and unique agritourism destinations, with residents having supported local businesses and local buying for decades. With more than 20 million visitors traveling to the scenic region for the outdoors, the arts, entertainment, shopping, and, of course, the food, this new Hudson Valley/Catskills Welcome Center location is the perfect fit for Taste NY."
Named one of the top 20 best destinations by National Geographic Traveler, the picturesque Hudson Valley welcomes visitors with its world-class restaurants, scenic gardens and historic homes. In 2017, more than 20.2 million people visited the Hudson Valley - 365,500 more visitors than the previous year, generating more than $3.6 billion in direct visitor spending. In addition, regional tourism generated nearly $448 million in state and local taxes, and supported more than 58,000 jobs in the Hudson Valley.
The Catskills region, home to the mountains of the same name, is a sought-after destination for explorers and families alike. From hiking and skiing, to music festivals and the original site of Woodstock, there's something for every traveler and interest. Nearly 11.5 million people visited the Catskills in 2017, spending $1.3 billion and supporting more than 18,500 jobs.
Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the tourism industry throughout the State, resulting in historic levels of visitors and direct spending. Last year, New York welcomed a record 243.8 million visitors who spent $67.6 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the fourth straight year. Tourism is now the state's third largest employer, supporting 938,800 jobs annually.
Located off Exit 16 of the New York State Thruway, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is one of the New York State's premier tourism and shopping destinations, drawing 13 million visitors annually from across the country and around the world. Established in 1985, the 910,000 square feet shopping center offers a selection of more than 250 fashion and retail brands, while supporting thousands of jobs and generating tens of millions of dollars in local, county and state taxes annually.
David Mistretta, Woodbury Common General Manager, said, "We applaud New York State's decision to construct one of 11 Welcome Centers here at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. We are proud to be a part of the Hudson Valley region and know the Welcome Center will provide our visitors with the opportunity to learn about the great Hudson Valley and Catskills regions and all the attractions they offer. It will be another fantastic amenity to further enhance our shoppers' experiences."
Senator William J. Larkin said, "The Hudson Valley is home to some of the top tourism destinations in the State of New York. Working collaboratively with organizations like Cornell Cooperative as well as local merchants to further promote what our communities have to offer is exactly what we must continue to do. Cooperation and teamwork always produce positive results."
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, "The opening of this Welcome Center is a big win for our local communities. Not only will it help to further drive visitors to the region, but it will promote locally made products and help boost businesses across the region. I thank Governor Cuomo for his investment in the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions and for working to ensure tourism will remain an economic driver for the area."
Woodbury Town Supervisor Frank J. Palermo said, "The Hudson Valley and Catskills are year-round destinations, and this Welcome Center will help to show visitors just how much this region really has to offer. With state-of-the-art amenities, interactive technology and a Taste NY market, travelers will be sure to visit this Welcome Center along their way. I commend the Governor for instituting this program and I support this program 100%."