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New Mexico’s tourism economy entered 2020 with nine years of record-breaking growth. Economic impact data from 2019 shows visitor spending at $7.4 billion, representing a 29% increase from 2013 and resulting in $737 million in state and local taxes, supporting over 96,000 jobs. This surge in visitor spending has made tourism the second-fastest sector in job growth in New Mexico, after oil and gas. At the same time, the success of the New Mexico True brand has undoubtedly served to increase the state’s competitiveness as a tourist destination.
In order to remain competitive, it is critical that the state focus strategically on improving state tourism assets by investing in the infrastructure that our visitors and our residents enjoy. The New Mexico Tourism Department’s (NMTD) advertising efforts continue to be incredibly successful, and it is critical that New Mexico deliver incredible experiences highlighted in NMTD’s advertising. To this end, robust investments in the continuous improvement of the state’s tourism infrastructure is key.
The following report provides recommendations for funding select tourism-related infrastructure projects in the State of New Mexico. For the purposes of this report, tourism-related infrastructure refers to projects which serve to: (a) increase visitation, (b) improve or enhance the visitor experience, and (c) spur economic development opportunities through NMTD’s Tourism Development Division supports communities in building New Mexico True experiences that deliver the brand promise – adventure steeped in culture. For more information, please contact Lancing Adams, Tourism Development Director. (Lancing.Adams@state.nm.us/505-629-9648). Examples of tourism-related infrastructure include but are not limited to: airport infrastructure; outdoor recreation (trail development, connectivity, wayfinding, water recreation, etc.); rehabilitation of historic and cultural assets and facilities; public art; and the development of convention and performance venue infrastructure.
The recommendations provided in this report reflect tourism-related infrastructure projects identified in collaboration with the state’s seven Councils of Government (COG). New Mexico’s COGs function as regional planning districts which assist local governments in the planning and execution of community and economic development projects and initiatives. Leveraging their technical expertise and the relationships of the COGs with their local governments, NMTD partnered with these organizations to identify the tourism-related infrastructure priorities for each region. Additionally, NMTD collaborated with the Department of Finance and Administration’s Local Government Division to ensure that recommended projects were represented in the State’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP).