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Tourism has power to unlock growth

When businesses make decisions about where to start, relocate or expand, quality of life of destinations top the list. For New Mexico to continue to be competitive, we must promote our many attributes, and be a welcoming place for businesses and their employees. Most business owners or leaders seeking a new venue will have their first contact as a visitor. (That) expanding our tourism promotion … efforts … (will) broaden New Mexico’s economic growth is undeniable. Investment in tourism through destination marketing campaigns by state and local entities is absolutely essential.

Steady year-over-year growth for our tourism and hospitality industries has created the second-largest sector of the New Mexico economy, with more than 100,000 quality jobs and visitor-driven spending that accounts for about $7.1 billion of our overall annual economic impact. This past summer, our state tourism department announced a record-breaking number of visits for the seventh consecutive year, with 36.6 million trips taken to and around New Mexico in 2018.

New Mexico’s amazing outdoor resources, friendly people and cultural diversity can’t be overlooked. Destination marketing and tourism promotion could help fuel the same type of rapid economic expansion our neighboring states enjoy. The “New Mexico True” campaign has been highly successful in getting the message out. With additional funding, this campaign can continue to grow tourism and, in turn, boost overall economic expansion. As we seek incentives for the film industry, make efforts to attract manufacturing jobs, promote space tourism and the aerospace industry, encourage companies to locate their operations in New Mexico, and promote tourism and destination marketing via the “New Mexico True” brand, we should continue to expand specific funding for this high-quality messaging.

An ambitious 20-year Oxford Economics study found that a 10% increase in a destination’s visitor-related employment relative to the U.S. average causes a 1.5% rise in broader employment. The clear lesson from the study is that those places making destination marketing a priority, along with those that choose to coordinate efforts with other economic development incentives, experienced significant population growth and opened themselves up to new economic opportunities.

No one can deny the grandeur of a New Mexico sunset, desert canyons set against snow-capped mountains or white sands stretching as far as the eyes can see. But, for those splendors to draw people into our state, we must make people throughout the country aware of them by targeting the right audiences with thoughtful and inviting marketing campaigns.

Now is the time to harness the synergy between destination promotion and economic development activities. We are only scratching the surface of what is possible with respect to tourism-driven growth statewide.

If we properly promote our state, people will visit and perceptions of what life is like in New Mexico will be enhanced. All of this will lead to the type of economic development, investment and growth that will benefit our communities and citizens.

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