News & Insights

The Sullivan Catskills is making a comeback!

Last updated on November 14th, 2018

Sullivan Catskills is growing steadily in tourism spending, making Sullivan County one of the fastest emerging destinations for tourism growth and investment in New York State and the entire Northeast.

The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) and its economic development partners are at the forefront of this development.

Time, strong partnerships and well thought out strategic planning is the recipe for successful tourism progress. Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President of the SCVA, her Board of Directors and partners used this formula and worked diligently for the past decade to attract smart and sustainable tourism investment such as: Resorts World Catskills, Yo1 Luxury Nature Cure, Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Water Park, Eldred Preserve and many other projects that are in the pipeline for 2019-2021.

Collaboration with the Sullivan County Partnership, local governments, Sullivan County Legislature as well as SCVA member businesses are the viable partners who have been instrumental to the success.

As a result of the strategic planning, tourism spending increased 7.3 percent between 2016 and 2017 after an 8 percent growth from 2015 to 2016. This number is anticipated to rise exponentially by 2020, at a rate of 10 percent to 15 percent per year.

By the end of 2018, strategists project that the Sullivan Catskills will have 4 million visitors, which will boost to over 5 million within the next couple of years. This number could even exceed to 7 million or more by the end of 2019, as the SCVA, Bethel Woods Museum and partners prepare for the 50th anniversary of the original 1969 Woodstock Festival, which was held in Bethel.

The SCVA has already hosted numerous domestic and international media who are writing about this momentous event; so far, the current media exposure is over 7 million readers globally. Roberta Byron-Lockwood attributes the success of the Sullivan Catskills to her partners.

“We are an amazing county. Everyone works together for a common goal of increased visitor revenue and new quality development,” Lockwood said. “Together we work strategically and are patient because we know it pays off in the long run. I have never worked in a place where there is so much collaboration. I am proud to work for the businesses and people in the Sullivan Catskills.”

The SCVA office staff has firsthand experienced this growth. Serving as a concierge service, the SCVA Visitor Center is busy daily with traveler requests of where to stay, eat and visit, as well as interests in itineraries and the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Guides.

The objective is to drive visitors to members’ businesses.

Last year, 100,000 guides were requested from travelers throughout the United States. Stats are not in for 2018, but anecdotally they report that requests are up from 2017. Each week, staff mail out up to 3,000 guides to inquiring visitors.

“We are thrilled that we have strong member support. Our membership is increasing, which adds to our database of recommended places for our new and returning visitors to patronize. New restaurants, lodging and even service businesses are signing up to become a member of the SCVA”, Byron-Lockwood said. “They see the value in our membership and our offerings. We keep the cost low so everyone can become a valued SCVA member.”

To find out more about the SCVA membership contact Holly Gassler, hlg@scva.net. There is more to come with the SCVA. New staff are hired to handle the tourism demand and a progressive marketing plan is now being implemented to further their visitor reach and awareness of the Sullivan Catskills.