By Arthur Zaczkiewicz
As you may have read, a recent study revealed that open space in the nearby Shawangunks — Minnewaska, Sam’s Point and Mohonk preserves — feeds over $12 million to the local economy each year. The money comes from the 392,000 or so annual visitors to these areas. This spotlights an important trend: open space has value.
For us here in the Kingston area, we may be best served by taking stock of our open space and opportunities for people to recreate in it. At first glance, there are two major assets in and near Kingston that could be promoted, namely the Catskills and the Hudson River.
For the Catskills, Kingston can tout itself as a gateway to this massive forest preserve where tourists can hike, bike, fish, hunt, birdwatch, ski, and commune with nature in a stunning setting. Small, elegant signage near the Thruway could direct daytrippers to outdoor recreation supply stores such as Potter Brothers and Kenco. Once there, they could peruse large display maps of recreational destinations within the area such as Onteora Lake, the Ashokan Reservior and the Esopus.
Other signage could direct hungry recreationists to eateries in Uptown Kingston. The idea would be for recreational tourists to start and end their trips to the region in Kingston.
Regarding the Hudson River, we need to consider this a vital open space that can be enjoyed by boaters, kayakers and fisherpeople as well as nature observers. Again, a thoughtful marketing strategy is needed. This would include signage directing tourists to the Rondout and Hudson — including key recreation points. Marketing of retail services in the Rondout would also be included.
Perhaps a map could be created that visually connects Kingston retail businesses that serve active tourists to recreation points. This would be a worthwhile project for the city and its business associations to pursue. And to make it successful, the marketing campaign would need to reach the tourists where they live, such as NYC, Westchester, Rockland and Long Island.