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Governor touts tourism during Roswell visit
Roswell Daily Record
By: Jeff Tucker
July 7, 2015
Gov. Susana Martinez was in Roswell Tuesday as part of her “touting tourism tour” on the heels of Roswell’s signature festival weekend.
Martinez said Roswell has been experiencing record-breaking lodgers’ tax revenues, while the state as a whole experienced a record-breaking number of tourists last year.
Martinez spoke Tuesday at the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium after viewing clips of “New Mexico True Stories” on the projection screen of the planetarium. “New Mexico True Stories” is a series of state-funded videos with New Mexicans sharing their passions about what they love most about living in the state.
Martinez recently announced New Mexico had another record-breaking year for tourism in 2014, with more people visiting the state than ever before. An all-time high 32.7 million people visited New Mexico in 2014, about half a million more visitors than 2013.
Martinez, who lived in the Las Cruces area for 25 years before she was first elected governor in 2010, said the state has tourist gems from the northern mountains to its southern border.
“It’s amazing that New Mexicans themselves don’t know all that we have to offer throughout New Mexico,” the governor said. “That’s why we encourage so many New Mexicans to take those long weekends and discover something new.”
Martinez said tourism is an essential part of efforts to diversify the state’s economy in communities of all sizes throughout the state.
“This is our opportunity to show off and brag about the beauty, the diversity, the culture, the food, the lodging, the activities that we have to offer that most of the United States and the world don’t know,” she said. “We have to be the advocates, the ambassadors to introduce New Mexico to everyone around the world.”
Martinez said a misperception exists that New Mexico is full of desert sands, shrubs and dirt. A 72-inch snowstorm in Taos in March belies the desert misconception, she said.
“That’s amazing. Where else can you have that in a southern state?” the governor asked. “I used to be a skier, a very good skier in my early years. I tore a cartilage and so I gave it up for 30 years. And I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to get back on’ and I did. I tied my knees really well and got back on and went skiing and it was like riding a bike. I even ditched my friend who was taking lessons. I said ‘Got to go, this is too slow for me, and I’m going to ski by myself if I have to’ because it was so much fun.”
Martinez said tourism is a huge economic driver for the state’s economy.
“When we are able to attract people from around the country and from around the world, it means more dollars are coming into our individual communities,” she said. “Thanks to our New Mexico True campaign, we’re doing just that.”
Martinez said the New Mexico True campaign includes all that Roswell has to offer tourists “from outdoor adventures at Bottomless Lakes State Park and Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge to world-class museums.”
“Our latest efforts have resulted in the largest lodgers tax collection the city has received in the last four years,” the governor said. “In fact, nine out of the last 12 months have been record-breaking months for tourism in Roswell. That’s awesome. That is really amazing.”
Martinez said increased tourism created 2,200 jobs in the state last year.
“That’s an 8.4 percent increase in new job growth created by this industry since 2010,” she said.
The governor encouraged New Mexicans to send photos of the state and various activities to their friends and relatives.
“Show them what we have to offer,” she said. “And it’s not just one thing, there are activities. There is rafting and kayaking and there’s skiing in the winter and there’s hiking and there’s looking at all the ruins and there’s all the museums.
We have a huge diversity of places to see because our people are just as diverse. That is one of the things that draws people to New Mexico, once they have seen something that erases their original vision of what they think New Mexico looks like.”
The governor said she’s encouraging New Mexicans and other Americans this summer to take advantage of the state’s tourist offerings.
“Drive a few hours away from where you’re used to and explore your own state,” she said. “Celebrating our third consecutive year for record-breaking tourism growth shows the New Mexico True campaign is truly working, bringing more visitors than ever before, creating more jobs than ever before, and benefitting New Mexico’s economy more than ever before.
“We have a lot to be proud of here in Roswell. The growth is amazing and we’re going to keep pushing this forward. We have a lot to do. We’re never going to give up. We’re going to continue to try to be the best at everything that we can be.
“That makes New Mexico a better place to live, to raise your children. People retire here, they come back, they visit, they stay. And that’s what we want to do.”
Rebecca Latham, secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department, said in-state travel for New Mexicans increased in 2014, for the first time in years.
“So we’re proud of that, more New Mexicans keeping their vacation dollars right here in New Mexico,” Latham said. “(W)e saw increases in day trips and overnight trips here in New Mexico and we saw five million friends and family invited, at your invitation, to travel the state. We’re extremely proud of that.”
Latham also said the state’s tourism advertising budget has increased 274 percent since 2010, making possible the “breathtaking storytelling” of the state advertising campaign.
“That shows the level of commitment that our governor and our elected officials have made to increasing tourism and really making it as powerful of an industry as it can be,” Latham said.
Roswell City Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Art Sandoval said the governor’s visit to Roswell could not have been better timed, coming on the heels of the annual UFO Festival, the Roswell Cosmicon and the Roswell International Sci-Fi Film Festival.
“What a wonderful time she’s picked to visit the city of Roswell as we just wrapped up the largest festival of tourism draw,” Sandoval said. “Roswell prides itself on tourism, industry and we’re proud to be a part of the New Mexico True campaign tour. We look forward to our continued partnership with the governor’s office and the state of New Mexico to bring visitors to our great city.”
As a gift from the city, Sandoval presented the governor a bottle of cabernet, locally grown green chile, UFO dust, and cream and chips.
Heather Briganti, communications director for the New Mexico Tourism Department, said a county-by-county breakdown of 2014 tourism numbers would be available in August.
To view the “New Mexico True Stories,” go to newmexico.org/nmtruestories.
Staff Writer Jeff Tucker may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at email@example.com.