June 30, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Launches New Tourism Initiatives at First-Ever Catskill Summer Challenge

Governor Cuomo Launches New Tourism Initiatives at First-Ever Catskill Summer Challenge

Governor Cuomo and Elected Officials Participate in Outdoor Activities to Herald the Growth of Tourism throughout Upstate New York

Joined by Robert De Niro, Governor Launches Series of New Initiatives, Including TV Ads, an MTA Tourism Ad Campaign and New Investments to Attract Visitors and Enhance Tourism Infrastructure in the Hudson Valley State to Nominate 1969 Woodstock Concert Site to the State and National Registers of Historic Places

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today hosted the first-ever Catskill Summer Challenge highlighting the world-class attractions and activities readily available in the Catskills with the goal of driving tourism and boosting the region’s economy. The event kicked off at the Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts and will continue at outdoor locations throughout the region. The Challenge brings together local elected officials, tourism industry leaders and outdoor enthusiasts to participate in a variety of outdoor recreational activities including rafting, biking, hiking and fly fishing. Actor Robert De Niro, who is a longtime Catskills resident, also joined the Governor at the event. The Catskills Challenge is modeled after the Governor’s successful Adirondack Challenge, which continues to strengthen tourism in upstate New York.

Before participating in the Challenge, the Governor unveiled a number of initiatives that will continue to support the growth of tourism in the region. These initiatives include a $5 million ad campaign featuring a new “I Love New York” television ad and advertisements on MTA’s subways, buses and commuter rails focused on the Catskills, and new funding for municipal projects and hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to help Catskill communities strengthen their tourism infrastructure. At the event, the Governor also announced that the state will nominate the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair’s location in Bethel to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Woodstock festival drew an audience of over 400,000 people and is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history.



“The Catskills are one of New York’s greatest natural treasures, and today we are shining the spotlight on what makes this region so special,” Governor Cuomo said. "This challenge is about showcasing the Catskills’ natural assets – its pristine lakes, breathtaking views and scenic trails – to drive tourism, support local businesses and generate continued economic growth. We are investing in this region like never before and I am proud to continue that focus so that tourism remains a source of economic prosperity and opportunity in the Hudson Valley for years to come.”

“Governor Cuomo recognizes the powerful allure that our natural resources possess and his plan to help revitalize the Upstate economy includes harnessing that power,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Events like the Catskill Challenge provide an excellent opportunity to showcase all this region has to offer and the ripple effect of their economic benefits can be felt throughout the region.”​

Catskill Summer Challenge
Governor Cuomo

As part of the 2016 Catskills Challenge, more than 200 participants will take part in a variety of outdoor events, including fly fishing, hiking, road biking, golf, mountain biking, bocce ball and motorcycle riding. Events will take place at Landers River Trips, Villa Roma, Mongaup Pond Campground, the Fly Fishing Center, and Sullivan West High School.

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has made historic investments to support the tourism industry, and the results show. New York State tourism generated an economic impact of over $100 billion in 2015. In the Catskills region alone, tourism direct spending resulted in over $1.1 billion in economic impact, an increase of more than 13 percent since 2010. Visitation is up over 11 percent since 2010 with more than 4 million visitors to the Catskills in 2014. In addition, tourism is vital to the region’s economy, representing more than 15 percent of the region’s employment, or over 17,000 jobs.

Catskill Challenge

At the event the Governor announced several strategic investments to strengthen tourism in the Catskills Region:

MTA Catskills Summer Tourism Campaign
The Governor announced a two-year $5 million advertising campaign to support and expand the tourism industry in the Catskills region. Empire State Development’s Division of Tourism, I LOVE NEW YORK, in partnership with MTA, launched the campaign, which will target millions of New Yorkers and travelers who ride the MTA’s subway, bus and commuter railroad network, in addition to New Jersey Transit travelers, to encourage them to visit the Catskills. The campaign includes two bus wraps, ads in 570 subway cars, on 150 subway entrance panels, and in nearly 230 commuter trains in and out of New York City. The ads feature the Catskills’ Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel; Lake Wawaka in Middletown; Zoom Flume in East Durham; OPUS 40 in Saugerties; Roscoe NY Beer Co in Roscoe; and Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith. The ads will run through August. To view them, click here.

“I Love New York” Catskills Television Ad
The campaign also includes a new “I Love New York” television ad focused on the region, currently being aired in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and the eastern and central portions of both Pennsylvania and Ohio. The ad will run through the summer until August 7, and features a Hunter Mountain Zipline Tour; the Birthplace of American Fly Fishing in Roscoe; the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope in Mt. Tremper; Bethel Woods Center for the Arts; and Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland. To view the commercial, click here.

Smart Growth Grants
The Governor also announced that $223,000 will be awarded through the Smart Growth Implementation Grants to six Catskill Park projects. Funded through the Environmental Protection Fund for Catskill Park communities and organizations to support recreation, economic growth and environmental protection, these grants are designed to help the region grow intelligently and promote walkable, livable communities.

Robert De Niro, Actor and Longtime Catskills Resident

The awarded projects demonstrate how Catskill communities can grow using the unique natural assets of the Park combined with improved amenities, attractions and infrastructure to bring in new businesses and citizens. This is the third round of smart growth funding supporting Catskill Park communities. This year’s grants build on the nearly $1.1 million devoted in the first two rounds of funding for this program.

Projects in 2016 include:

  • Town of Prattsville – $53,683 for a pavilion at Conine Field Recreation Area;
  • Mountain Top Arboretum – $24,875 for a project to improve safe entry to the facility;
  • Village of Tannersville – $20,500 for a main street visitor information kiosk project;
  • Town of Andes – $64,500 for the historic andes hamlet secondary water source project;
  • Town of Shandaken – $28,450 for improvements to town parks, solar lighting and landscaping; and
  • Catskill Center for Conservation and Development – $30,992 for the Catskill Interpretive Center Interior Design.

Funding for Municipal Projects
$500,000 will also be awarded in Local Assistance funding to support a number of projects in the Catskills region. These projects include:

  • A Comprehensive Park Recreation Plan to compile and update previously developed plans in the Catskills to produce an integrated plan for economic development and infrastructure improvements to enhance tourism and recreation in the Catskill region;
  • Improved mountain bike trails, hiking trails, parking and access to Forest Preserve lands;
  • Expansion of the Summit Stewards Program, to place stewards on mountain tops in the Catskills to teach visitors how protect the fragile mountain top environment;
  • New signage to identify trails and paths, in addition to new education kiosks;
  • Major Parking Improvements at Overlook, Prediger, Roaring Kill, Platte Clove, Kaaterskill Falls, and Giant Ledge;

Woodstock Historic Site
The Governor today announced that New York State is working with the property owner of the site of the legendary 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair to seek nomination to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The festival is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history. The original venue plan was for the festival to take place in Woodstock, New York, but after being turned down by residents there and banned from holding it in Wallkill, organizers arranged to hold it on farmer Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel. The festival drew an audience of over 400,000 people and ran for four days, from August 15 to 18, 1969.

Today, visitors can step back in time to the ‘60s at The Museum at Bethel Woods. Located on the site of the 1969 music and art fair, the museum is a unique way to experience the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, discover how it capped off an amazing decade of radical cultural transformation, and witness its ongoing legacy. Personal recollections, fascinating state-of-the-art multimedia exhibits, unreleased festival film footage and engaging programs and events can be experienced at the museum. The adjoining Bethel Woods Center for the Arts offers multiple stages featuring a diverse selection of popular artists and culturally rich performances.

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said, “Governor Cuomo’s Catskill Summer Challenge is a great way to highlight the many vacation attractions of the Catskills region, and the MTA is happy to be working with the I Love New York campaign to help send that message to the millions of daily customers who ride our trains and buses every day and will see the advertising.”

“Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have made great strides in working with Catskill Park communities to protect and improve the treasured landscapes of the region,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Our ongoing commitment to the Catskills has resulted in increased visitation and tourism spending, and the grants announced today will help these communities further expand sustainable tourism efforts and improve the overall outdoor experience.”

“Our promotion of tourism destinations across the state has resulted in more than $100 billion in economic impact,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “In the Catskills, tourism is a critical part of the region’s economy, supporting more than 17,000 jobs at top tourism sites, including Howe Caverns, Hunter Mountain’s 3,200-foot winter ski summit, a summer zip line course, Saugerties’ historic lighthouse, and more. The arrows are pointing in the right direction, our investments are paying off, and we are proudly welcoming millions of travelers to New York State each year.”

The success of the 2016 Catskills Challenge builds on the Governor’s accomplishments that are already setting the stage for future growth in the Catskills region, including:

  • Over $5.4 million invested in the Catskills region by DEC to improve fishing access, hiking trails, campgrounds and infrastructure.
  • The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, a $1.3 million project supported by New York Works, which was completed in 2015 and provides information to visitors about the 700,000–acre Catskill Park.
  • Improvements to enhance the experience of visitors and increase public safety, including an observation platform, completed at Kaaterskill Falls.
  • The I LOVE NEW YORK Bus hosts regular ski trips from Manhattan to Catskills’ slopes, including Hunter Mountain and Belleayre, to drive tourism Upstate.

For more information on tourism in New York State, visit www.iloveny.com.

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