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Tourism Talk promotes regional unity

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Kathy Komoll from the New Mexico Hospitality Association sits in the center of the tables and shares information about the association’s governor candidate forum to be hosted on Monday. (Alison Penn Photo)

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At the Roswell Tourism Talk, some attendees raised the issue of the southeast region being looked over in the state’s tourism industry and other challenges. Fifteen people representing Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad attended the meeting on Tuesday morning.

“The hospitality association is trying to reconnect with all the regions of the state so that we can be a better conduit for their needs — what we can do to help them, what we can do to promote tourism across the state — because we are a statewide organization,” Kath Komoll said. “We want to make sure that the tourism dollars and the tourism focus is equitable for all the regions as well.”

In the region, Komoll said the two counties offer opportunities to visit natural attractions, learn about ufology, experience farm and ranching heritage, and view the oil and gas industry.

“I just think it’s unique and it’s more accessible than people give it credit for being,” Komoll said.

Komoll, CEO of the New Mexico Hospitality Association (NMHA), explained the statewide networking benefits of membership and answered any questions about tourism. Creating statewide and regional alliances to keep tourists in the state for longer was something Komoll shared and she offered examples like Meow Wolf in Santa Fe to offering discounts to those who can prove they visited the International UFO Museum & Research Center.

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Komoll also shared that the NMHA will be hosting a tourism forum for state governor candidates Congressman Steve Pearce and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham at noon on Monday. She said the forum will be live-streamed on NMHA’s Facebook and the recorded forum will be available for constituents to learn about each candidate’s views on tourism, the cabinet secretary, and their thoughts on equitable gross receipts and lodgers tax in the hospitality industry. Komoll said Grisham will begin the forum at noon and go through 1 p.m. and Pearce will speak between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

For the NMHA’s views, she said the organization supports the state’s tourism department to be separate from economic development, the collection on gross receipts and lodgers tax to be equitable for short-term rentals like Airbnb or VBRO, for the Legislature to consider capital investment in updated wireless and broadband internet, and requesting an evaluation for the state liquor license code.

Juanita Jennings, the city’s public affairs director, said it has been a long process as they attempt to acquire five liquor licenses in the city.

Komoll’s presentation also covered Americans with Disabilities Act compliances and how to appropriately handle service dogs in hotels.

When it comes to tourism state grants, Komoll said they want the cabinet secretary of tourism to award those based on data and facts.

Komoll said the state tends to end up on the bottom of best and the top of the worst list and this goes back to the infrastructure of each city or town, the economic development, education and the public transit system.

For the Roswell International Air Center, Jennings said there will be a $43,000 grant to place digital ads in the Dallas and Phoenix airports and another $400,000 grant specifically for marketing and advertising.

To continue the conversation around the potential flight to Denver, Jennings said the city is looking into another carrier like United to create a more competitive flight selection. Jennings also said the airport’s “Welcome to Roswell” sign is being worked on to have the sign illuminated and a new window wrap is being installed.

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