Catskills seeks revival through rebranding

July 10, 2012 09:00AM

Once considered the country’s first true tourism destination, the Catskills have fallen on hard times and regional leaders and businesses are — once again — launching an effort to rebrand the area to lure back the long-diminished crowds. The New York Times reported that the Catskills Park Resource Foundation has opened its website to public submissions for new slogans. More than 1,000 have already been submitted and five finalists will be chosen later this month, with the winner being selected by an online vote.

“I think there has been a general awareness on the part of people in tourism and business for many years that the brand ‘Catskills’ is just not helpful,” said Dean Gitter, who founded the high-end Emerson Resort and Spa in Mount Tremper, N.Y., in 2001 and is working to build a Belleayre resort on 739 acres. “It’s either ‘the borscht belt,’ which isn’t accurate and is long gone, or it’s just nebulous ‘upstate,’ wherever that is.”

Rather than the old-timey imagery conjured by the Catskills, which is centered on 700,000 acres across four counties known as Catskills Park, business leaders want people to think of outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, fishing and artisan manufacturing, the Times said, making it a good location for the second-home hunters and hipsters that have revived Woodstock. [NYT]