Catskill Mountains near top of travel ranking
A recent travel ranking is putting the Catskill Mountains region at the top of many visitor’s traveling lists.
Travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet ranked the Catskill Mountains region as the no. 2 spot for the publisher’s Best in Travel Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2019.
The Catskills, which ranks behind the Piedmont Region in Italy, was chosen for its beautiful landscapes, outdoor recreation, major events and the 50th anniversary of the historic Woodstock concert held in Bethel in 1969, according to statement from Adworkshop.
“There is never a bad year to visit the Catskills, given its timeless small-town charm and natural beauty,” said Trisha Pang, the destination editor of Lonely Planet’s Eastern USA. “The 50th anniversary of Woodstock is the perfect excuse to experience the region’s growing food and drink scene, surprising art collectives and modern music venues.”
The travel guide’s ranking has received a mixed reaction from Greene County residents and visitors to Catskill.
Bob Spain, of Catskill, and his wife travel extensively across the Northeast. Despite the beautiful locations he’s visited, he loves coming home to Catskill across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, he said.
“It’s more beautiful than every other place we’ve visited,” Spain said. “We say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to live here?’ but then we remember, we do live here.”
Helen Dykeman, of Catskill, said the high ranking isn’t justified because Catskill doesn’t offer many activities for children or a decent convenience store.
“You need a place where you can run across the street to get a pencil,” Dykeman said. “The ranking should be a lot lower than 2.”
Markiea Loveless, of Kingston, agrees with Lonely Planet’s recent ranking because the area boasts beautiful landscapes, great education programs and diversity, she said.
“There’s a lot of diversity, a lot of culture,” Loveless said. “This is a hot commodity here.”
Creating Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list starts with the company contacting the guide’s travel editors, writers and influencers to nominate destinations they recommend visiting the following year, said Natalie Nicolson, Lonely Planet’s senior public relations and communications manager.
“We ask them to consider factors like new openings and attractions, special events and anniversaries and general buzz-worthiness and topicality,” Nicolson said.
A panel of judges make the final decisions and rank the lists, she said. Then, selected destination marketing and tourism organizations amplify the accolade in a variety of ways all year.
“That contributes to the Best in Travel inclusion making an impact on tourism numbers that year,” she said.
Lonely Planet representatives reached out to Catskills Association for Tourism Services President Heather Bagshaw to inform her they wanted to feature the region in next year’s list. Bagshaw presented ideas to the publishing company, she said.
“They’re very energetic and they’re also very savvy in understanding the travel world,” Bagshaw said of Lonely Planet. “They recognized us because of our brand.”
The brand Visit the Catskills was built up over the last two years with a focus on outdoor activities, Bagshaw said, adding the area is appealing to millennials who may be discovering a hidden gem.
“It’s untapped hidden gems and beauty that we have to offer,” she said. “Millennials — they love to be the first to discover… they want to feature and showcase the beauty of the Catskills.”
Greene County has many assets to offer visitors such as zip lining in Hunter, hiking near the new Kaaterskill Falls overlook and taking skyrides at Hunter and Windham mountain resorts, Bagshaw said.
“We’ve got a lot of great things going for us in Greene County, which I encourage our locals to explore,” she said. “We have beauty in our backyard.”
The region’s no. 2 ranking by Lonely Planet gives the area a boost and Bagshaw, who is also the county’s tourism marketing manager, will let the ranking speak for itself instead of using it for a marketing campaign, she said.
“It’s similar to how we partner with a larger brand,” Bagshaw said. “I know it will increase tourism to the Catskill region.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.