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NM hits tourism record with 34.4 million trips

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

It was another record-breaking year for tourism trips in New Mexico in 2016, according to the state Tourism Department.

There were an estimated 34.4 million trips in New Mexico last calendar year, up about 3 percent from the 33.4 million visits in 2015, the department reported. In 2010, about 29.8 million visits were made.

Of 2016’s 34.4 million trips, roughly 24.3 million, or 70 percent, were by out-of-state visitors.

“A record number of people are visiting New Mexico, and that means more money being spent in our communities,” said Gov. Susana Martinez.

Governor Susana Martinez announces record-breaking tourism numbers during a press conference Wednesday at the Balloon Fiesta Museum. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Day trips increased the most, up 4.9 percent, from just over 18 million to 19.2 million. Day trips by out-of-state visitors accounted for about 11 million of those.

The number of overnight trips also increased, but by just 0.6 percent. Overnight trips rose from 15.1 million to 15.2 million. Eighty-four percent of those were visitors from out of state.

The numbers are extrapolated from a survey of 3,000 people conducted by Longwood Travel USA.

Overnight trips are broken into three categories: business, visiting friends and family and marketable, according to Longwood. Marketable nights – nights stayed at resorts and hotels – represented 55 percent of all overnight stays, up 2.5 percent from 2015.

In the friends and family category, the number of visits fell to 31 percent of all overnight trips, down 8.2 percent from its 2015 level.

According to Longwood, 86 percent of 2016 overnight trips were by repeat visitors, up from 81 percent in 2015.

Though the New Mexico Tourism Department did not have the exact number readily available, Tourism Secretary Rebecca Latham did say that the satisfaction rate for visitors was “over the national average,” indicating a potential positive for repeat visits.

Outdoor activities continue to be a large draw for New Mexico, with visits to national parks measured at twice the national average – 22 percent, compared with 11 percent. And the percentage of visitors who are visiting landmarks, hiking/backpacking or camping all exceed the national average.

Other potential draws for the state were brewery and winery tours, which at 11 and 12 percent, respectively, were about twice the national average.

Accommodation sector taxable gross receipts, lodging receipts and leisure and hospitality jobs all have had strong growth in recent years, according to the state.

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