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Despite this strong foundation, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely damaged the tourism industry in New Mexico, resulting in an average loss of visitor spending of $366 million each month, according to Tourism Economics. The cumulative loss of visitor spending is estimated to be $3.5 billion and has resulted in an estimated loss of $163 million in state and local taxes.
As a result of this visitor spending decrease, numerous tourism businesses had to lay off staff temporarily or permanently. As of November, there are 30,000 unemployed workers from the accommodations and food services sector, costing a cumulative total of $271 million in unemployment benefits.
All told, the total 2020 projected cost to the state in visitor spending, taxes and unemployment benefits is $4.3 billion. Restarting the tourism economic engine at the appropriate time requires an increased investment in marketing.
Although tourism promotion is still not feasible at this stage of the pandemic, people around the world are dreaming of their next vacation. Tourism is a competitive industry. While several other states have invested heavily in tourism marketing through the CARES Act, the New Mexico Tourism Department has not received any federal stimulus money. New Mexico needs a substantial investment in tourism marketing to have a strong "share of voice" when we can re-enter the market.
Tourism is an elastic industry, and history has proved time and time again that the industry is resilient and bounces back.
Through a $25 million special appropriation for tourism recovery included in the FY22 Executive Budget Recommendation, NMTD will be able to reignite commerce and expedite the tourism industry’s timeline for recovery. Through a substantial and targeted investment of $25 million in tourism recovery, the Tourism Department will be able to:
NMTD will not require any additional FTEs to enact the $25 million special appropriation for marketing and promotion.
In addition, the $45 million special appropriation for the New Mexico Tourism Department included in HB 267 will allow the agency to stimulate tourism business development, support the hard-hit events sector, and develop hospitality job retention and creation programs. HB 267 will specifically provide:
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