October 23, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Series of Actions to Promote Tourism and Draw Visitors to the Catskills Region

Governor Cuomo Announces Series of Actions to Promote Tourism and Draw Visitors to the Catskills Region

First Annual Catskill Challenge to be Held in Summer 2016

$5 Million Catskill Region Tourism Ad Campaign to Launch Next Year

$7.3 Million Project will Transform Minnewaska State Park

(Renderings available here, here and here)

Ad campaign launched for “I LOVE NY Cash and Travel” Lottery Game promoting 11 vacation regions in New York

Governor Cuomo announced a series of actions to promote tourism in the Catskill Mountain region, including holding the first annual Catskill Challenge in summer 2016. Governor Cuomo also unveiled a$7.3 million plan to modernize the gateway to Minnewaska State Park Preserve and better accommodate the growing number of visitors to the stunning Shawangunk destination. In addition, New York State will launch a $5 million Catskill region tourism ad campaign to draw visitors from around the world. The Governor made these announcements while on a “Ride the Catskills” Motorcycle Tour.

“The Catskills Region is home to some of the most beautiful mountains, views and attractions in the world and through these initiatives, we are once again putting the spotlight on this state’s unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our tourism industry plays an integral role in this state’s economy and we will continue to invest in our natural assets to support local businesses, grow our regional economies and generate new economic opportunities statewide.”

Catskills Challenge
Next summer Governor Cuomo will host a Catskills Challenge to promote tourism and showcase all of the recreational opportunities the region has to offer, including fly fishing, paddling, hiking and mountain biking. The Challenge will be modeled after the Governor’s successful Adirondack Challenge used to strengthen tourism in Upstate New York and will bring together state and local officials, tourism industry representatives and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the Catskills region.



Catskills Challenge

Next summer Governor Cuomo will host a Catskills Challenge to promote tourism and showcase all of the recreational opportunities the region has to offer, including fly fishing, paddling, hiking and mountain biking. The Challenge will be modeled after the Governor’s successful Adirondack Challenge used to strengthen tourism in Upstate New York and will bring together state and local officials, tourism industry representatives and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the Catskills region.

$5 Million I LOVE NY Catskills Tourism Campaign
Empire State Development will launch a $5 million tourism ad campaign next year to promote all the Catskills region offers to visitors from around the world. The campaign will feature TV ads promoting the world class attractions across the region, expanded service for the I LOVE NY bus, a Catskills concierge program with New York City hotels and extensive marketing to tour operators and travel agents in key markets including China, Australia, UK, Germany and Canada.

As part of that campaign, New York State today launched the “Ride the Catskills” tourism website, an online resource that features a series of itineraries and trips for visitors to enjoy the pristine beauty of the Catskill Mountain region by motorcycle, car and bike as well as through other outdoor adventures. The website connects scenic locations and outdoor recreation activities with dining, shopping and lodging opportunities in the region. Whether it’s kayaking, hiking, horseback riding or getting an aerial view from a hot air balloon, opportunities abound in the Catskills to explore natural wonders. The Ride the Catskills website and theme-based itineraries were developed in partnership with Catskill Association for Tourism Services. Visit the Ride the Catskills website.

$7.3 Million Transformational Project at Minnewaska Preserve State Park:
The Minnewaska Preserve State Park project will feature a new 6,000-square-foot visitor center and is supported by a pledge by the Open Space Institute to raise $3 million in private philanthropy, and deliver design and construction services.

Visited by nearly 300,000 people a year, the park’s popular Lake Minnewaska area lacks the facilities and layout needed for a world-class tourism destination. The project will:

  • Build a new approximately 6,000 square-foot visitor center to educate visitors on the park’s natural and recreational features, including exhibit space, classroom space for environmental education programs, public bathrooms and park offices. The project will bring potable drinking water to the park for the first time.
  • Add a 50-person capacity warming hut/pavilion to offer the four-season park’s visitors a place to get out of the elements, conduct park programs or rent out for special events.
  • Improve the parking areas in the Lake Minnewaska to provide better organization and maximize capacity under the preserve’s stewardship guidelines, while creating better vegetative screening of parked vehicles. An existing parking area near the edge of Lake Minnewaska will be converted to a picnic ground.
  • Redesign the main entrance area on Route 44/55 to create stacking capacity for up to 50 vehicles waiting to enter the Preserve and add automated parking fee payment options relieving traffic congestion and improving safety on peak visitation days.

The first phase of the multi-year project will begin with the reconstruction of the Route 44/55 entrance next spring.

“Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 plan is transforming our parks – and in doing so connecting new visitors and tourists to these incredible places,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “The project at Minnewaska is the perfect example of how we are creating better access to New York’s great outdoors. I am grateful to the Open Space Institute for its tireless support in preserving this dramatic landscape – and helping people to enjoy and appreciate it.”

“Through his Parks 2020 Initiative, Governor Cuomo is making an historic commitment to New Yorkers by restoring and modernizing our world-class state parks,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “OSI is proud to have joined with the state and other partners to build Minnewaska over the past 40 years. Today, as an extension of our commitment to the preservation and public enjoyment of this remarkable landscape, we join forces with the administration to create a gateway facility for visitors to better appreciate and enjoy Minnewaska’s dramatic Hudson Valley views, renowned carriage roads and important natural features and habitats.”

About Minnewaska State Park
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a critical anchor of the regional tourism economy. A 2010 studyfound that Minnewaska, the Sam’s Point Preserve (which is now part of Minnewaska) and the Mohonk Preserve together contribute $12.3 million to the local economy and sustain 350 jobs.

Situated atop the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, the 23,000-acre park features dozens of panoramic views of the Hudson Highlands, Catskill Mountains and the farmland of the Wallkill and Rondout Valleys. The park features impressive sky lakes and waterfalls and is a world-class rock-climbing location. With 35 miles of historic carriage roads and nearly 40 miles of footpaths, the park welcomes a wide range of hikers, naturalists and bikers.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

While on the “Ride the Catskills” Motorcycle Tour, the Governor also announced additional investments to strengthen tourism in Upstate New York: the launch of the I LOVE NY “Cash and Travel” Scratch-Off Game from New York Lottery and the kick-off of the “Win What You Love” marketing campaign and the launch of the “Ride the Catskills” website.

I LOVE NY “Cash and Travel” Lottery Game:
First announced in July at the 2015 Summer Adirondack Challenge, the I LOVE NY Cash and Travel lottery game officially hit stores on October 13 and is now available for purchase at lottery retailers across the state. The I LOVE NY Cash and Travel lottery game was developed by the New York State Gaming Commission’s Division of the Lottery in collaboration with Empire State Development’s Division of Tourism, I LOVE NEW YORK and offers the opportunity to win a vacation to one of New York’s 11 unique vacation regions or up to $25,000.

The I LOVE NY “Cash and Travel” Scratch-Off Game Offers:

- A chance to win one of 15 ‘instant win’ trips in any of New York State’s 11 vacation regions;

- A second chance sweepstakes for non-winning tickets will offer additional prize trips in all 11 tourism regions;

- An opportunity to also win $50 of I LOVE NY scratch-off tickets and $25 of I LOVE NY merchandise, included in second chance drawing for second and third place prizes.

- Cash prizes of up to $25,000 and totaling $15.5 million; and

- A final drawing for one more trip to one of the 11 New York State destinations will take place, bringing the total number of second chance trips to 45.

To view all the rules and prizes in the second chance sweepstakes, click here.

To view the I LOVE NY Cash and Travel ticket, click here.

I LOVE NY Cash and Travel prize trips include three-five day VIP trips, offered for each vacation region in the State. The trips include lodging, activities, meals and spending money. Each trip is valued at nearly $5,000, which includes taxes, bringing the total value of prize trips to $300,000.

A full list of I LOVE NY Cash and Travel Lottery Game Travel Prizes in all 11 regions is available here

“Win What You Love” Marketing Campaign
The New York Lottery’s multi-faceted marketing campaign, “Win What You Love,” kicked-off this week in support of the I LOVE NEW YORK scratch-off game and will run through mid-November, 2015. Created by the New York Lottery’s new advertising agency, McCann, the “Win What You Love” campaign includes statewide television, radio, digital, and out-of-home advertising, point-of-sale displays, and social media. In this campaign, the iconic “I Love New York” song is used to announce the new scratch-off game in a playful way in keeping with the playful spirit of the New York Lottery brand. The beautiful landscapes, nostalgia and humor of the advertising make the campaign fun, inviting and sharable.

Building on the campaign, the New York Lottery launched a social media contest to further promote the I Love New York game: players can post a picture of their ticket in one of their favorite New York State locations using #WinWhatYouLove on Facebook. Twenty winners will be randomly selected to receive New York Lottery merchandise and I Love New York scratch-off tickets.

To view the commercial, click here and to view the outdoor billboards, click here.

The New York Lottery Acting Director Gardner Gurney said, “The innovative I LOVE NY Cash and Travel game offers exciting prizes for our players that showcase all the beautiful regions of New York State. Additionally, by working with our I LOVE NY partners, we are bringing two seminal New York State brands together to highlight exceptional tourism opportunities and fun Lottery games in the Empire State.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemksy said, “We’re bringing New York’s unique travel regions to a whole new audience and supporting tourism statewide. This collaborative effort gives us the opportunity to offer New Yorkers these vacations in a fun and exciting way while creating awareness of the state tourism brand.”

There are 12 million I LOVE NY Cash and Travel tickets available at the nearly 18,000 retail locations across New York State. Lottery ticket sales support education throughout the State. New York Lottery, enacted into the New York State Constitution in 1966, contributed $3.11 billion to help support education in New York in fiscal year 2014-15. New York Lottery continues to be North America's largest and most profitable Lottery, earning over $54.7 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 47 years ago.

Since taking office, the Governor has worked to grow New York’s tourism industry in the Catskills region. In 2014, the total economic impact of tourism industry in the region reached over $1.76 billion. Tourism activity sustained over 17,000 jobs and supported a total income of $494,179,000 in the region. Since 2011, direct spending on tourism in the region has increased by ten percent, bringing the total spending to nearly $1.12 billion in 2014.

Statewide, the total economic impact of New York State’s tourism industry in 2014 reached an all-time high of $100.1 billion. Historic investments in the tourism industry have generated job growth and an increase in visitors to New York, making it the most visited state by overseas travelers for the 14th year in a row. As an economic engine, tourism generates $62.5 billion in direct spending in New York State. Average annual employment in the industry was 867,900 in 2014 and is expected to grow to 880,000 in 2015.Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership the state has tripled support for the tourism industry with measures including a $45 million tourism campaign. That unprecedented level will continue, sustained by a commitment of over $25 million to supplement the existing I LOVE NY marketing campaign. Based on performance in the hotel sector and employment trends in 2015, direct spending and visitation is expected to increase by nearly four percent in 2015.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418