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Finding the Way to UFO Festival Tourism; Council prepares for annual worldwide attraction

This photo shows one of Roswell’s wayfinding signs on Highway 380 east of town. The Wayfinding Plan was adopted by the Roswell City Council in June 2016 to create gateways and directions to the city’s assets and attractions. The entire plan can be viewed on the city’s website (roswell-nm.gov). (Alison Penn Photo)

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The Roswell Tourist Council met Monday morning with various community organizations and members in the annex of the Historical Society for Southeastern New Mexico to discuss tourism updates related to the UFO Festival.

City of Roswell’s Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said the annual UFO Festival is an exciting time for the city — including the community at large.

Jennings explained the city’s current tourism initiatives and announced updates for the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. Jennings said the tentative opening date is Aug. 20. The first large conference held will be from Aug. 27-30, for the New Mexico Municipal League. Jennings said a contract with Spectra has been finalized and the new facility management company will be in charge as of July 1.

In addition to a digital campaign, Jennings said the city is running a $50,000 TV campaign — with $25,000 focused in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas.

Jennings said 22 film productions, including 1st Look from NBC News, are coming to the city, as well as travel writers and journalists. She said production permits help with attaining additional funding from the state, adding that the city does not charge filming permits for this reason.

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Jennings said budget funds have been secured for the 2019 fiscal year for the Wayfinding Plan, to create cohesive signage to guide visitors and locals to the city’s attractions. Jennings said she has been working with Planning Manager Bill Morris. According to the city’s website, the Wayfinding Plan was adopted on July 14, 2016, along with the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan and the Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area Plan.

New Mexico True and marketing 

Jennings said the city is working to be re-certified for marketing benefits and more with the state’s tourism department, whose slogan is “New Mexico True.”

Jennings said there will be a southwest regional tourism meeting on June 27 at 11:30 a.m., a NM True tour around the community on June 28, and on Jun 29 is a Roswell Tourism Talk at the Roswell Museum and Art Center from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. to give the city it’s NM True certified ‘report card.’ For the New Mexico True Tour on the 28th, Jennings asked for resources for hands-on interactive experiences to share with the state’s advertising department.

Including local businesses in the NM True benefits, Jennings said she is looking for local businesses that manufacture or even grow goods, from “pecans to honey to soap,” to participate in NM True’s Certified Partner Program — a free resource that can give businesses access to extra advertising and marketing statewide. At this time, Jennings said only three Roswell businesses are participating and that she and her team are willing to help local businesses with paperwork to join the program.

The city intends to apply for the Rural Pathway Project, a $50,000 grant to create a regional tourism economic impact, Jennings said.

Jennings also said HK Advertising’s contract is up and the city’s public affairs department will take over. At this time, the Roswell City Council has voted to allow City Manager Joe Neeb to enter into negotiations with Cubic Inc., a marketing agency based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

UFO Festival updates

Kathy Lay, Executive Director for MainStreet Roswell said she has 27 different groups helping in the festival, from an alien autopsy interactive science activity at Tascosa Office Machines to a “selfie in a space suit” exhibit from NASA at Sippy & Opal’s Ice Cream & Sweet Treats.

Lay said New Mexico Game & Fish will also have science-focused activities and Coca-Cola will offer printable coke bottle kiosk

“The thing that I am so excited, and the thing that really means the most to me, is how partners come on board in our community to make this happen,” Lay said. “It is a success — not because MainStreet Roswell does a fun festival — it’s because our whole community comes together and we are networking, starting to build bridges to one another, we’re starting to work together. It’s not a competitive thing. This is actually a team effort and its the way I love to see our community working.”

Lay said she wants to see this collaboration continue throughout the year. Referring to the city and GalactiCon as well as other community organizations, Lay said partnering in these projects can “really make an impact to bring tourism dollars and to bring economic vitality to the community.”

A newcomer to the Roswell tourism scene, Bryan Beck will be bringing Enchanted Tours to Roswell with a large bus with 57 seats and small bus with 12 seats. He said the goal is to be in operation before the UFO Festival weekend. Beck said he wanted to be in the tourism business because New Mexico is “fascinating and enchanting” and this is why he named his business Enchanted Tours.

“We want to not just target Roswell — we want to target other great things in New Mexico as well,” Beck said. “These people that come will have a wonderful time, a wonderful experience and want to come back again and maybe even establish a business or home there.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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