SANTA FE – The New Mexico Tourism Department (NMTD) is ramping up its investment in New Mexico’s tourism infrastructure for year two of the Destination Forward program, awarding a total of $2,350,287 in grant funding to 12 tourism infrastructure projects across the state.

Destination Forward was created to support the planning and implementation of tourism infrastructure projects that enhance the visitor experience at tourism-related amenities, facilities and points-of-interest throughout the state.

“What really stands out when looking at the grant recipients for the Destination Forward program in FY25 is the diverse mix of project types,” said Acting Secretary Lancing Adams. “This program is supporting everything from research to improved safety and accessibility to new product development. When completed, these projects will improve the experience at our tourism-related amenities for residents and visitors alike.”

The Destination Forward program first launched in fiscal year 2024 with $1,896,471 in grant funding for 10 tourism infrastructure projects. FY25 represents an increase in both total grant funding and average funding per project compared to FY24.

One of the program participants from the inaugural cohort in FY24 was the Village of Fort Sumner. Through their $215,471 Destination Forward grant, the village laid a new concrete walking path through the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery and designed new branding and signage for the Fort Sumner Heritage Center. Completion of projects supported by the Destination Forward program will enhance capacity and improve the visitor experience throughout New Mexico.

NMTD is awarding the following projects through the Destination Forward program for FY25:

Town of Red River – Conference & Visitor Center snowmelt repair

With over 1.1 million annual visitors, the Red River Conference & Visitor Center serves as both a local and regional travel information center and a convention facility. Additionally, this amenity serves as the primary public restroom facility in town. This project will provide funding to help repair the outdated and broken snowmelt system, which will improve safety and accessibility to this vital amenity for residents and visitors alike during winter months. Grant award: $39,769

City of Santa Fe – Feasibility study for open air performing arts center

The City of Santa Fe has lacked an open-air performing arts center since the Palo Soleri closed in 2010. Because of this, Santa Fe lacks an outdoor performing arts center for live music, performances, concerts and other community and tourism-related events. The Destination Forward program will help fund a feasibility study to evaluate bringing a new open-air performing arts center back to Santa Fe. Grant award: $40,000

Taos County – Historic courthouse restoration and visitor center

This project will provide funding to renovate the historic courthouse to act as a hub for residents and visitors in the Taos Plaza area. Renovations will include interactive tourist experiences, visitor information services, six developed retail spaces, public restrooms and more. Grant award: $500,000

City of Raton – Convention center elevator modernization

This project will support the renovation and modernization of the elevator system at the Raton Convention Center, which will revitalize the efforts by the City of Raton to attract meetings, conventions and tourism-related events. Grant award: $121,718

City of Carlsbad – Renovation of Carlsbad Museum Archive and Collections Annex

The Carlsbad Museum Archive and Collections Annex features a collection of preserved archives and artifacts made available to the public for viewing and research. This project will support renovations and upgrades to the roofing, HVAC system and electrical system of the historic building. Grant award: $500,000

Peñasco Valley Historic Preservation Society – Preservation of historic Peñasco High School

Through the support of Destination Forward, the Peñasco Valley Historic Preservation Society will produce a master plan and construction plan for the full restoration of Peñasco High School. When restoration of the high school is complete, it will be used as a museum, learning center, community open space, culture venue and more. Grant award: $100,000

New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society – Economic impact study

In an effort to further determine the potential impact of the restoration of AT&SF 2926 on the Barelas Railyards District and the surrounding community, the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society will commission an economic impact study through Destination Forward. Completion of the economic impact study will inform future strategic planning, volunteer projects, construction projects and funding needs. Grant award: $100,000

City of Socorro – RV park improvements

The City of Socorro acquired a modular building that it will redevelop into a welcome center for the city’s RV park through support from the Destination Forward program. The redeveloped building will include showers, laundry services and an outdoor patio. Grant award: $220,000

City of Albuquerque – Route 66 interactivity

Through the work of a planning group that includes a number of city departments, the City of Albuquerque developed a comprehensive Route 66 Centennial celebration plan that will commence May 2025 and last through December 2026. The Destination Forward program will support the city’s three-pronged approach to the Route 66 Centennial celebration that will include multi-dimensional immersive art exhibits, Route 66 photo engagement displays and an augmented reality experience. Grant award: $200,000

City of Albuquerque – Route 66 neon gateway sign

In preparation for the Route 66 Centennial in 2026, the City of Albuquerque will design and create an iconic neon sign that will reside on East Central Avenue. The Destination Forward program will support the implementation of this project. Grant award: $328,800

Town of Mesilla – Calle de Santiago parking lot improvements

This project will leverage support from the Destination Forward program to more than double the total parking capacity near Mesilla Plaza, which will include ADA accessibility and electric vehicle charging stations. Grant award: $150,000

Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation – Theater improvements

Through the support of the Destination Forward program, this project will provide technological and content upgrades to the museum’s theater. Grant award: $50,000

For more information about Destination Forward and other NMTD grant programs, visit