SANTA FE – New Mexico tourism is officially back on track and realizing record growth. According to the New Mexico Tourism Department’s (NMTD) annual economic impact study, New Mexico welcomed a record 39 million visitors in 2021. The 2021 visitor volume generated an estimated $7.2 billion in direct spending in 2021, including a record $7 billion in visitor spending by domestic travelers.
In 2021, New Mexico surpassed the 2019 totals for domestic visitors by 1.5 million and domestic visitor spending by $159 million. The estimated spending per overnight trip was recorded at $335 for 2021, slightly surpassing the estimated overnight spending of $331 per trip in 2019.
“The 2021 Tourism Economic Impact study is the greatest indicator yet affirming that New Mexico has officially reclaimed the position of tourism growth,” Cabinet Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “It should be a point of celebration for all of New Mexico that we were able to exceed even the most favorable trajectories for tourism recovery within calendar year 2021.”
The report outlines significant gains in visitor spending for the major subsectors of the tourism industry, representing a near complete recovery for all major subsectors. According to the report, visitor spending on lodging recovered to 97 percent of 2019 levels while spending on food and beverage recovered by over 99 percent. Visitor spending on retail realized a slight increase in 2021 compared to 2019 while spending on transportation recovered by 97 percent. Visitor spending on recreation trailed behind, recovering by just less than 90 percent.
The recording-breaking domestic visitor spending in 2021 supported tens of thousands of jobs and offset the tax burden on New Mexicans households by hundreds of dollars. Visitor spending sustained 83,811 jobs for New Mexicans in 2021, representing nearly 8 percent of the state’s entire labor force. Visitor spending generated an estimated $708 million in state and local tax revenue, which offsets the tax burden on New Mexicans by $893 per household.
“Our collective ability to restore tourism growth is an incredible accomplishment, but it’s essential we remain committed to investments in this sector. In order to remain competitive and to sustain this growth trajectory, we must continue investing in our national marketing efforts and support the needs of our tourism infrastructure to meet growing demand. Looking forward to 2023 and beyond, the Tourism Department demonstrated its ability to keep New Mexico on track for continued growth with the appropriate investment,” Schroer said.
On October 18, 2022, NMTD presented its Fiscal Year 2024 budget request to the Legislative Finance Committee which included a $3 million increase to accommodate media inflation, a $4 million increase to sustain investments in the department’s growing cooperative programs with local destinations and a $1.2 million increase to fully fund the department’s full-time employees.
The NMTD budget request for FY24 also included a special appropriation of $20 million that will allow NMTD to enter the San Francisco market, activate four-season national campaigns and execute major airport out-of-home takeovers, among other strategies. The FY24 budget request also included $5 million for a tourism development fund which will allow NMTD to strategically invest in tourism infrastructure, product development, capacity expansion, and sustainability measures.