SANTA FE, NM (MAY 11, 2021) – Thanks to the state’s vaccination success and the continued commitment from New Mexicans to suppress spread of COVID-19, the New Mexico Tourism Department (NMTD) will be able to officially restart travel promotion later this month.
NMTD aims to restart its tourism advertising campaigns in drive and national fly markets by the end of the month. NMTD will also be launching an in-state campaign to encourage residents to travel the state and do so safely.
“I’m thankful for all the New Mexicans and everyone in the business community who did their part to keep one another safe during this pandemic. Through our collective effort, the day would come where we could welcome folks back to New Mexico – and that day has arrived. New Mexico set the standard for statewide vaccination efforts, and now New Mexico has the chance to lead the way in ushering a new era of post-pandemic tourism,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.
“People are ready to travel, and New Mexico is ready to welcome those folks back,” Cabinet Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “Because we have spent the past year on creative development, digital optimization and tourism industry technical assistance, we are well-positioned to reignite demand and kickstart our revitalization efforts by bringing travelers back to New Mexico in a safe and sustainable way.”
Since March 2020, NMTD paused all out-of-state tourism advertising campaigns to help slow the spread of the virus and keep New Mexicans safe. With New Mexico on track to reach the 60 percent threshold of eligible New Mexicans who are fully vaccinated by the end of June, NMTD will restart out-of-state tourism advertising to help drive demand and kickstart revitalization for the state’s hard-hit tourism sector.
“We all know that New Mexico is a unique and attractive place to visit, and not being able to actively promote New Mexico as a premier travel destination over the past year has been difficult,” Heritage Hotels & Resorts CEO Jim Long said. “The Tourism Department receiving the green light to restart tourism promotion will provide a much-needed boost for communities throughout the state that rely on visitor spending.”
“Comprehensive recovery for New Mexico’s economy cannot happen without a rebound of our tourism industry since it is the second largest private sector jobs generator in our state,” Tourism Commissioner Chair and La Fonda on the Plaza Board Chair Jennifer Kimball said. “While we have quite a way to go to recover from our industry losses due to the pandemic, welcoming visitors back to New Mexico is a huge step and a necessary step that will bring us closer to recovery.
Due to the state’s ability to reduce risk associated with the virus and several unique attributes regarding the state as a destination for leisure travel, New Mexico is well-positioned to capitalize on a growing demand for domestic travel.
Drive-related travel is already beginning to recover and will continue to outpace flight-related travel. New Mexico has historically been a predominately drive destination, with 80 percent of all travel stemming from drive traffic in 2019.
NMTD also anticipates a much quicker recovery for domestic travel compared to international travel. New Mexico relies almost entirely on domestic visitation and will be able to provide domestic travelers with a unique experience through the state’s outdoor spaces and cultural attractions.
“Inviting our friends and family to visit us in New Mexico is an easy step fellow New Mexicans can take to help share the word that our doors are open for travel,” Schroer said. “It will take a collective effort to bring tourism back, and the little steps we can all take can help spark more activity in our economy.”
New Mexicans understand the value of the tourism dollar. According to a 2020 survey of New Mexico residents about their sentiment and perceptions of tourism, 96 percent of residents realize the importance of visitor spending for the economy, and 89 percent of residents said they understand that tourism provides jobs for the community. The survey also indicated that 86 percent of residents said they understand that tax revenue generated by tourism helps provide services that residents need.
In April, NMTD announced a refresh to the New Mexico True brand in preparation for the moment where NMTD could restart tourism promotion. Last week, the public got a glimpse of the refreshed New Mexico True logo when NMTD announced a new partnership with New Mexico United to feature New Mexico True as a front jersey sponsor for the 2021 season.
A major feature of the brand refresh is a modernized logo and the inclusion of “The Land of Enchantment” as the tagline for New Mexico True. The logo refresh will improve legibility and will offer more flexibility of usage across different channels.
Since its inception in 2012, New Mexico True has established itself as a nationally recognized, award-winning brand that showcases “Adventure Steeped in Culture.” Due in large part to the power of the New Mexico True brand, New Mexico has realized record-breaking tourism growth including a 34% increase to $7.4 billion in visitor spending from 2011 to 2019. In 2019, the tourism industry generated $737 million in state and local taxes.
The pandemic brought severe economic hardship to New Mexico’s leisure and hospitality sector from the beginning. NMTD estimates the state has lost approximately $3.5 billion in visitor spending since the beginning of the pandemic, which translates to an estimated $190 million loss of state and local tax revenue. While employment and occupancy rates are beginning to improve for the leisure and hospitality sector, current numbers are still short of pre-pandemic measurements. As of March 2021, occupancy rates for the state were reported at around 58 percent, which is the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic, but still short of pre-pandemic estimates by about 15 percent.