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City opens new Visitors Center today; Officials also aim to boost Roswell tourism promotion efforts

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The city unveils its new Visitors Center offices today, which are returning to the historic Conoco Building on North Main Street. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The city of Roswell plans to show off more than just new offices when it comes to promoting tourism, one of the area’s largest economic sectors.

The Visitors Center is returning to the historic Conoco Building downtown, its home years ago, but the building has been refurbished.

The renovated space will be unveiled at a ceremony this morning, and Director of Public Affairs Juanita Jennings said that it is symbolic of the city’s efforts to start a new chapter in its promotion of tourism.

“Before the thought was that we sit behind a desk and we wait for travelers to come in to hand out brochures,” said Director of Public Affairs Juanita Jennings. “The new direction is that we are seeking those individuals who are looking to travel.”

Jennings said that the city has completed new video and photo shoots of local attractions, such as Bottomless Lakes, the golf course, Spring River Park and Zoo and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

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It also has begun targeted digital media campaigns in which third-party companies will place ads on social media pages and websites known to reach the type of audiences likely to be interested in the type of activities and destinations the Roswell and southeast New Mexico regions offer.

“The beauty of doing digital advertising is that you can target a specific audience, and so we are looking at trends of the people that we want to bring to Roswell — people that are interested in outdoor adventure, people that are interested in road-tripping, people that are looking at weekend getaways.”

Traditional billboards, TV and print ads also are planned when appropriate, Jennings added.

She explained that advertising campaigns will be timed to coincide with special events in the area, such as the upcoming Christmas Railway attraction or spring break vacations, or will seek to boost traditionally slower visitation periods.

The refurbished Visitors Center at the corner of West Fifth and North Main streets, estimated to cost between $20,500 and $33,000 and paid for by the Building Maintenance fund of the city Lodgers Tax, was required because of the renovation of the Convention and Civic Center. The decision to create a larger and more technologically advanced facility for meetings also prompted taking the Visitors Center and its staff out of the building at 912 N. Main St.

“It was like, do you have a Visitors Center or do you not have one? If tourism is an important aspect of what we are doing, then we have to move it to the new building. I would rather have a Visitors Center rather than not have one,” Jennings said.

The building also will include new signage to bring people in to the Visitors Center itself and a map of city attractions and sites to encourage visitors to stay in the city for a while, ideally for a night or two.

Tourism and business visits to the area generated $158.7 million for Chaves County in 2015, according to data published by the New Mexico Tourism Department. The City of Roswell Tourism Council recorded 460,656 visitors to Roswell in 2015.

Visits to the Visitors Center itself totaled 8,956 for the first 10 months of 2016 and have increased to 11,151 for January through October 2017, according to information from the city.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.