Tourism is our state’s second-largest employment sector and revenue generator, behind oil and gas, and employs nearly 100,000 New Mexicans, brings in $6.6 billion in revenue, and pays $660 million in state and local taxes.
Tourism also boosts economic development. When someone starts a business, buys a vacation home, moves or retires to New Mexico, he or she typically first discovers us as a visitor, likely having seen a New Mexico True ad.
The New Mexico True campaign cultivates awareness of our state as a world-class destination packed with incredible cultural treasures and outdoor adventure. The campaign is seen in major airports like Denver, Dallas, Houston and Chicago, and in magazines, digital ads and social media.
The award-winning work has produced dramatic increases in visitor spending in every region of New Mexico. Since True debuted in 2011, annual visitors jumped from 31.7 million to 36.1 million – a growth rate 50 percent over national average.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is requesting a $6.06 million budget increase for tourism promotion. This boost to last year’s $10.5 million budget targets major markets where research shows we’ll achieve solid results, and it generates greater awareness in proven markets.
Even with this step up, the budget would still be dwarfed by those of neighboring states: Colorado, $19.6 million; Arizona, $21.7 million; Utah, $22.5 million and Texas, $24 million.
Please join Meow Wolf and ask legislators to keep apace with our neighbors and vote “yes” on the requested budget. This will have a return on investment in jobs, lodgers’ tax, gross receipts tax and, of course, the bottom line of many thousands of local businesses like ours that depend on tourism to survive.
Current investment in tourism provides a 7-to-1 return on the dollar. This is a clear signal of success and we should leverage our successes for long-term prosperity in the New Mexico economy.
When more people discover our awesome state and tell others about their experiences, we all win. New Mexico is on a roll, but we’ve seen our momentum sputter out before. Now is precisely the right time to invest in continued and greater success for all New Mexicans.
Kadlubek is CEO of Meow Wolf.