Recently, personal finance website WalletHub ran a survey of the "Best Summer Travel Destinations" in which Albuquerque was ranked number 19, ahead of other cities such as Denver (36), Las Vegas (37), San Diego (39) and Phoenix (45). The survey, which took into account affordability, state access and attractions, ranked a total of 100 cities from across the U.S. Additionally, between 2019 and 2020, and according to the Visit Albuquerque website, New Mexico had received national recognition in over 50 categories, including "Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts to Live and Work" by SmartAsset, "Best Family Vacation Spots in the U.S." by Conde Nast Traveler and "Most Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations" by Viewfinder.
New Mexico is not unaccustomed to receiving its share of accolades and national attention. As a world-renowned destination for art, culture, history and outdoor activities, tourism is one of this state's bread-and-butter (sopaipilla-and-honey?) industries. In fact, prior to the lockdown and throughout 2019, tourism in New Mexico generated $1.5 billion in tax revenues and helped to sustain one out of every 12 jobs from across the state. Now, with COVID restrictions beginning to ease, New Mexico is ready to reinvest heavily in tourism—which, until 2020, saw consecutive financial growth.
In this most recent legislative session, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee unanimously voted to pass House Bill 267, which would provide a $45 million special appropriation to the New Mexico Tourism Department (NMTD) for tourism recovery efforts. The bill, over two years, will provide $7 million to support the retention and expansion of tourism businesses, $8 million to fund a tourism event revitalization program to attract out-of-state visitors to N.M. events, and $30 million to support tourism employment, training and career advancement programs. "Tourism recovery is about employing our people, preserving our culture, and preserving our economy," said Cabinet Secretary for the Tourism Department Jen Schroer during the presentation of HB 267 at the legislative session.
Recently, the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division created a grant program as a way to help individuals and outdoor recreation companies improve their business plans, hire New Mexicans and amplify the state's reputation as a leader in the outdoor industry. Out of the 14 grant applications, the three chosen grant recipients included New Mexico For Good, a certificate program out of the Anderson School of Management with courses centered around outdoor business and economy. Additional grant recipients included Sandoval County, which will expand on a program to accelerate their outdoor and leisure businesses, and Arrowhead Center, a New Mexico State University program designed to help start and grow outdoor recreation businesses in southern N.M.
Along with hefty investments into tourism and nurturing of outdoor recreation businesses, last month, the NMTD unveiled a recently updated look to the "New Mexico True" brand, which had been around for nine years prior. According to the press release, a major feature of the brand refresh is a modernized logo and the inclusion of "The Land of Enchantment" as a tagline for New Mexico True.
With nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, eager travelers are already planning their various summer getaways. The NMTD is hoping to capture that audience while simultaneously competing with national and international destinations for much-needed tourism dollars. Here's hoping that the rebranded "New Mexico True" logo does the trick.
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