Tourism Works: An Appeal from the Tourism Association of New Mexico

Op-ed | - February 5, 2013

"Thanks to several recent studies commissioned by the New Mexico Tourism Department, we now KNOW more than ever about the true economic impact of tourism on our state"

From the Tourism Association of New Mexico

The New Mexico tourism industry is a driving force for our economy—note $5.5 billion in visitor spending each year! Yes, we’ve always had people visit our state, but without substantive and reputable analysis it’s difficult to quantify the effect that has—from the number of jobs directly generated by the industry across the state (over 86,000) to the tax revenue it brings into the coffers ($1.2 billion). This is important information to not only get the big picture of economic impact, but to also help make informed decisions on how to improve on that success. Therefore, we were pleased to read the editorial in the Albuquerque Journal on Dec. 29 lauding the recent research implemented by the New Mexico Tourism Department, but seriously question the seemingly opposite point of view expressed by Thomas Cole in a Journal article on Jan. 30.

Thanks to several recent studies commissioned by the New Mexico Tourism Department, we now KNOW more than ever about the true economic impact of tourism on our state—even broken down by county—that tourism-related tax revenues to New Mexico’s general fund saves each household in the state $747, and that those same tax revenues help pay for teacher salaries, Medicaid expenses and other essential services. And, knowing how many jobs come from this industry is another helpful statistic as we’ve seen significant job growth in this sector while others are shrinking.

We aren’t just pulling those numbers out of the air. A reputable and well respected firm was hired to find those answers—the real answers, not fictional numbers to make things look good. Sure, they charge for that service—they are professionals in that field and make their living doing those surveys and analyzing the results. And that analysis has provided the proof we’ve always wanted to substantiate requests for more advertising funds to promote New Mexico as a destination. Greater investment in advertising will stimulate more visitors to tour our state, patronizing the small businesses in communities from border to border, helping them survive and even grow. The New Mexico True brand introduced last year has been a great step in that direction as well.

Return on investment is an expected business outcome—fools throw money at advertising with no solid plan or method to determine success. Smart business minds make marketing decisions based on knowledge of target markets, demographic and psychographic profiles of consumers and current economic factors. It’s a true science. So doesn’t it make perfect sense to, first, invest in acquiring that information, and then use it to make informed decisions to help ensure a significant return on your advertising investment?

Secretary of Tourism Monique Jacobson spoke at our annual meeting last week, giving an update on recent Tourism Department projects, initiatives and legislative priorities. She explained the latest study showing a three-to-one return on investment for the spring marketing campaign, expertly justifying the department’s request for $2.5 million more from the New Mexico Legislature for advertising, essentially doubling the advertising budget. The collective New Mexico tourism industry has expressed full support of the New Mexico True brand as well as this request for more funding as shown in their independent lobbying efforts with their legislators, because we know it will generate more visits to New Mexico, help small businesses and bring in even more tax dollars. Hooray for ROI! Legislators expect it, businesses need it and as taxpayers we deserve it!

This article is endorsed by:

The Tourism Association of New Mexico, New Mexico Lodging Association, New Mexico Restaurant Association, Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association, Santa Fe Lodgers Association, New Mexico Bed & Breakfast Association, Ski New Mexico, Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau and Ted Garcia, chair New Mexico Tourism Commission.

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