Gov. Susana Martinez told a group of tourism industry bigwigs on April 28 at the Santa Fe Convention Center that they have a "partner in the governor's office" to increase funding for programs so tourism "goes up and up and up" in the state.
The Republican chief executive touted increased tourism activity since she's taken office, citing stats like a 7 percent jump in 2013, bringing in $300 million to the state. She attributed increased funding for the state's Tourism Department—an agency Martinez said was considered a "stepchild" prior to her administration—and its "New Mexico True" advertising campaign as drawing new visitors to the Land of Enchantment in this post-recession era. Included in the fiscal year 2016's budget is a $1.25 million increase for the state agency's advertising budget.
On the previous day, Tourism Department Secretary Rebecca Latham said the state's next round of the effort will be led by Talweg Creative, an agency based in Santa Fe, and will include specific ties to entrepreneurs, education and agriculture. Latham says the state is courting the "venturesome traveler" with its messages about "sight-doing rather than sight-seeing."
Martinez echoed that message the next day, eliciting laughter from audience members as she described her own adventures kayaking for the first time as well as skiing for the first time in decades.
"We don't want them to just see New Mexico," the governor said of visitors. "We want them to experience New Mexico."
She joked that zip-lining might be her next adventure. "I had no idea we had the longest zip line in the country," she said.
The audience of hoteliers, like Richard Verruni, said Martinez is doing an impressive job. Verruni, the managing director of Bishop's Lodge, also said City Hall is driving the city's own tourism department to be more successful in promoting the Convention Center.