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Chaves County visitor spending dips; State data shows slight decrease in 2015 lodging, recreation and transport

October 13, 2016 • Local News

The Senior Olympics competition is one of many local events bringing visitors and tourists to the area. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Statewide tourism and visitor spending grew by almost 4
percent last year, bringing the $6 billion a year industry to a size equivalent
to the entire state budget, but Chaves County experienced a bit of a decrease
in visitor spending, according to newly released data from the New Mexico
Tourism Department.

“We’re surprised the figures show Chaves County with a
decrease in tourism,” said Judy Stubbs, head of the Roswell Tourism Council and
a member of the Southeast Regional Marketing Board for the state tourism
agency. “But we feel confident that numbers will continue to grow as people
recognize the vast number of experiences we have to offer.”
The Roswell Tourism Council, a volunteer group, helps coordinate promotion efforts for events and attractions in Roswell and the surrounding area. According to information the group gathered for the state, at least 460,656 people went to Roswell attractions, events and visitor centers in 2015, an increase of about 22 percent over the 376,395 attendance numbers counted in 2014.

But Chaves County as a whole did not experience the same growth, according to the state data. Those numbers show that Chaves County had a slight decrease in 2015 visitor
spending in the categories of lodging, recreation, transport and second homes.
The annual total in 2015 of $158.7 million is a 1.7 percent decline from the
2014 total of $161.5 million, although it still does represent an increase over 2013 totals.

But the downward slope is a marked change
in the trend. From 2011 to 2014, the county experienced growth of more than 22
percent in visitor spending form $132.2 million to $161.5 million. The four-year average growth rate was 5.5 percent.

Other sectors of the county tourism pie held steady or recorded growth.

Visitor spending for the food and beverage and the retail sectors stayed
the same at $39.4 million and $35.1 million. Also staying steady were tourism
tax receipts of $36 million, with $5.4 million of that staying at the local
level.

Tourism labor income for the county increased a bit, $43.3
million in direct income for 2015 compared to $42.7 million in 2014. Indirect labor
income grew from $63.1 million in 2014 to $63.8 million in 2015.

Indirect labor income is defined as jobs or income that
result when businesses directly affected by visitors, such as hotels or
entertainment venues, spend money with outside suppliers, vendors or services.

In 2015, Chaves County ranked 14th among the
state’s 33 counties in the size of its tourist and visitors economy. The top
three, in order, are Bernalillo County ($2.04 billion), Santa Fe ($828.1
million) and Dona Ana ($360.2 million.)

Statewide, visitors increased by about 700,000 compared to
2014, bringing the total to 34 million person-trips. Visitor spending reached
$6.3 billion in direct sales, a 3.6 percent increase over 2014 and marking the
sixth straight year of growth. Most of the spending comes from U.S. travelers,
but about 10 percent is from foreign visitors, primarily from Canada or Mexico.

The data indicate that tourism and visitors sustained more
than 90,400 jobs, generating incomes of $2.4 billion.

In making the announcement, Gov. Susana Martinez said in a
news release that tourism is a vital part in diversifying the state economy and
reducing reliance on the federal government.

“When more people than ever visit our state and spend their
hard-earned dollars in our small businesses, that means more jobs and more
money for our communities,” Martinez said.

The state report is conducted by Tourism Economics, which
gathers information from many sources including Longwood International’s survey
of U.S. spending, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, county-level bed tax
information and state tax revenues. Visitors and tourists are defined as all
those making overnight visits and day visitors traveling at least 50 miles from
their usual residences.
Staff writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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