Tourism in Gallup is increasing. We had an incredible year in 2019. The Red Rock Balloon Rally had one of the best years in event history. Our Native Arts Market has expanded each of the past three years. Overnight stays are up. For our community, the increases in attendance at events and the increases in visitors to our area aren’t simply numbers. These increases are much bigger than that, and are directly related to more money coming into our community.

These positive growth trends are paving the way for economic development in Gallup far beyond the events themselves. Additionally, the Native Arts Market’s success allows our local artisans to showcase and sell their wares at home, without having to travel, thereby keeping revenue generated right here in Gallup.

As more people visit Gallup, we see increases in lodgers’ tax revenue, but we also experience the opportunity for sustained, long-term economic growth through a booming tourism industry. As the number of visitors increase, the door is opened for increased promotion and expansion of events, new events and attractions, new tourism-related businesses, and new jobs created within the industry to support our community and to draw in new residents.

This is just a snapshot of the positive financial impact that can be created by robust destination promotion campaigns. The success we are experiencing in Gallup is happening in communities all over New Mexico. Communities across our state rely upon tourism revenue, as does our state as a whole. In fact, the New Mexico Tourism Department recently announced that tourism brought in a staggering $7.1 billion in 2018 alone.

Thanks, in large part to “New Mexico True” branding, New Mexico’s message is reaching new audiences. We’re pulling in visitors from across the nation to experience New Mexico for the first time. Reaching these audiences is invaluable, as many become repeat visitors. Some move to New Mexico, and others bring their businesses here.

As word continues to spread about the magnificence of a New Mexico sunset, the delicious spice of our chile, the friendliness of our people, the business-friendly atmosphere, the wide-open spaces for exploration and the unique “New Mexico True” experiences, the possibilities for growth in the tourism industry are endless. This translates directly into endless economic development opportunity and a thriving, diverse economy in our state.

We must continue to invest in tourism promotion for the growth and success of our individual communities, as well as for the state of New Mexico. An investment in destination promotion for New Mexico is an investment in our future.

Bill Lee is the CEO of Gallup McKinley County Chamber of Commerce.

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