SANTA FE, NM - On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, legislation to stimulate tourism development, support hard-hit event planners, and develop hospitality job retention and creation programs was introduced in the House of Representatives.
House Bill 267, introduced by Representatives Meredith Dixon, Candie Sweetser, and Antonio Maestas, and Senators Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales and William Burt, will provide a special appropriation of $45 million to the New Mexico Tourism Department to administer the necessary services and programs outlined in the legislation:
"This bill will restore and fortify the leisure and hospitality workforce and help create economic development opportunities for New Mexico. I applaud the continued efforts of the Legislature to focus on tourism recovery,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.
“Having the ability and resources to promote travel experiences will be essential to kickstart the tourism economy, but it is only one part of the equation,” Cabinet Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. “We also need to make sure that our tourism businesses and experiences are stabilized and our hospitality workforce is prepped for the post-pandemic tourism economy.”
The appropriated $7 million to support the retention and expansion of tourism businesses will allow NMTD to provide promotion services, technical assistance and other support to business improvement districts with the exclusive focus on tourism and hospitality businesses.
The appropriated $8 million for an event revitalization program will allow NMTD to work with tourism-related events to improve the efficacy and sustainability of boosting out-of-state visitation through those events.
The appropriated $30 million for a tourism industry career advancement pilot program will afford professional development and vocational opportunities to leisure and hospitality employees to restore and prepare the workforce for the post-pandemic tourism industry. This part of the bill will specifically feature a college fellowship program with the goal of retaining New Mexico college graduates, along with a mentorship program and online education certificate. Retaining talent and mitigating workforce migration is crucial to recovery.
“The tourism industry has proven to be an economic driver for New Mexico over the last nine years. While the economic injury to the world’s travel industry in 2020 has been severe, tourism will return. People are wanting to travel, but we need people to choose New Mexico when travel returns. This landmark legislation demonstrates New Mexico’s commitment to the tourism ecosystem. The support provided through this special appropriation will allow us to preserve our cultural experiences, restore the leisure and hospitality workforce, and enable opportunities for future business expansion. These targeted resources are the catalyst for a tourism rebound,” said Representative Dixon.
If passed, HB 267 will appropriate funding through FY23. The bill was assigned to the House Commerce & Economic Development Committee for its first hearing.
The New Mexico tourism industry has suffered severe economic injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NMTD estimates the state lost over $3.15 billion in visitor spending in 2020. The estimated loss of visitor spending translates to a loss of $160 million in state and local tax revenue. As of December 2020, an estimated 30,000 leisure and hospitality workers remain unemployed.
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