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Aliens and the arts in spotlight at competition

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The city of Roswell is putting its art community and its UFO attractions in the spotlight as it competes in a state event to win media coverage.

The city has been selected as one of six finalists for “Travel Tank 2.0,” sponsored by the New Mexico Tourism Department.

“We are very excited about it,” said Director of Public Affairs Juanita Jennings, “and we hope we bring home the win.”

Styled after the TV show “Shark Tank,” the Travel Tank competition gives tourism representatives five minutes to convince local and national journalists and media figures that their region deserves coverage.

As the name implies, the competition is in its second year, said Brianna Gallegos, public and industry relations coordinator with the department.

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The first year, the six regional tourism marketing boards in New Mexico competed and New Mexico writers and reporters were the judges.

The event is meant to showcase tourism experiences that are “uniquely” New Mexican, Gallegos said. There is no cost to entrants and gives tourism representatives experience selling their ideas.

“Sometimes people don’t know how to reach out to journalists,” she said. “This is an opportunity to present ideas right to them.”

The competition will occur May 8 at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Ruidoso during the Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism. The public can attend the event, which is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

Other finalists this year include a bicycle rental and touring company in Albuquerque; a business group based in Pecos, New Mexico; Los Alamos County; the city of Alamogordo; and Visit ABQ, a nonprofit group that promotes Albuquerque as a destination.

Jennings and her group advanced to the finalist stage for their entry on “Aliens and Art.”

In addition to promoting the International UFO Museum and Research Center and other attractions related to Roswell’s well-known connection to UFO phenomena, Jennings is emphasizing the city’s two art museums and its arts community.

She said that part of the pitch will be about a new Peter Hurd exhibit planned by the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the Roswell-Artist-in-Residence program of the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art and Main Street Arts, a cooperative exhibiting various artists’ works and businesses.

Jennings said an earlier tour of journalists through New Mexico indicated that their experiences creating art at the Main Street gallery rated among their favorite activities.

She said that a Travel Tank win could translate into tens of thousands of dollars worth of free media coverage.

“One of the panelists is a Texas Monthly writer. If we were to pay for an ad in Texas Monthly, it could cost us $8,000 to $10,000,” Jennings said.

The winner also gets a free booth at the Family Travel Showcase in Gallup in November. All finalists also can participate in a Texas media tour in June.

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.