Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to join Gov. Susana Martinez as she delivers an important message across the Land of Enchantment: tourism is on the rise and is bringing dollars and jobs to New Mexico.
For the third straight year, New Mexico saw record-breaking tourism growth, with 32.7 million people traveling our state in 2014. That’s 500,000 more visitors than in 2013, a boost that is exposing more people than ever before to our cultural heritage and unparalleled adventure.
In fact, since Governor Martinez came into office, we’ve seen an additional 2.9 million visitors in New Mexico, representing a 9.7 percent increase over all domestic trips taken in 2010. Those trips equate to more employment; 7,000 additional leisure and hospitality jobs, an 8.4 percent increase over 2010, have been created during this administration.
On a broader level, New Mexico continues to outpace the national average for marketable overnight trips, the designation given to leisure travel influenced by advertising and marketing.
This monumental growth, a 40.6 percent increase since 2010, is a reflection of the amazing partners we have in cities, villages and towns around the state. The communities that have joined in our efforts to make New Mexico a top vacation destination have seen the value in working together as collaborators, rather than competitors. They also strongly believe in the disciplined, research-based approach we took to develop the New Mexico True campaign.
In 2012, we launched “New Mexico True” after extensive research to determine what would draw people to our state. The result is advertising focused on what makes New Mexico a standout destination, and a promise to deliver adventure steeped in culture through our state’s vibrant and unique cuisine, art, outdoor activities and heritage.
A 2012 return-on-investment study found that we would generate $3 back into the tax base for every $1 spent on the “New Mexico True” message. Equipped with this knowledge, Martinez gained the support of the Legislature, and in five years we have grown our advertising budget from $2.5 million to $9.35 million, a 274 percent increase.
Advertising and promotion, which prior to 2011 made up just 27 percent of the department’s budget, now account for nearly 70 percent of the funding allocated to the New Mexico Tourism Department.
Even with the increase in advertising and a strong message in the marketplace, we have to work together to compete with neighboring states and their larger budgets.
We have joined forces with amazing tourism-based businesses, chambers of commerce, and convention and visitors bureaus around New Mexico to get the word out about what makes them New Mexico True.
We have leveraged a consistent message, finding ways to bring to life the adventures and culture unique to each area. To date, more than 30 New Mexico communities have seen value in speaking with a unified voice, contributing an additional $2 million of their own money to expanding the reach of “New Mexico True” each year.
A clearly defined focus and collaborative approach have done incredible things for tourism on both the statewide and community level.
Using tools like New Mexico Magazine, New Mexico True Television and our regional marketing boards to encourage New Mexicans to explore the state, we’ve seen the first increase in in-state travel in years. However, our work isn’t done.
We have only begun to scratch the surface of getting New Mexicans to spend their vacation dollars closer to home, an effort that not only benefits the more than 90,000 people employed in our hospitality industry, but also contributes to offsetting the household tax burden for New Mexico families.
How can you help? Experience for yourself the incredible events and experiences offered throughout the state.
Use the hashtag #NewMexicoTRUE when sharing photos that showcase what an exciting and beautiful spot New Mexico is within your social network. And invite friends and family to visit and show them firsthand why New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment.