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Visitors Center traffic increases

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Amber Caley, information specialist at the Roswell Visitor’s Center, stands next to a camera Monday at the Center. The center, which last year moved from its former location at the Roswell Convention Center to 426 North Main Street, saw a 58.44 percent rise in visitor traffic between Sept. 2017 and last month. (Alex Ross Photo)

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The amount of traffic coming into the Roswell Visitors Center jumped by more than half this year.

Foot traffic to the center increased 58.33 percent from Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018, Roswell Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said at the October meeting of the Roswell Tourism Council.

She said so far this year, 15,866 visitors have come to the center, compared to 10,000 at the same point last year.

Jennings said much of the increased volume in visitors to the center can be attributed to its new location at 426 North Main Street, directly across from the Chaves County Courthouse, as well as a shift in marketing strategies.

“I think some of it is attributed to the new location, but also I do think we are starting to see some return on the investment of our new digital strategy that we did last year,” she said.

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The city in its 2018 budget began to direct more of its dollars towards digital advertising and partnered with the state for ad placement in Phoenix as part of it’s FlyRoswell program.

The center provides visitors with information about local businesses, events, activities and attractions, as well as recommendations from the two full-time employees and one part-time employee who staff the center.

Before last November, the center had been housed in the Roswell Convention Center, before renovations got underway on that building. The new plans for the center did not include a visitors center.

Jennings said the largest segment of visitors came from other areas of New Mexico.

Texas came in second, followed by California, Arizona and Colorado.

Amber Caley, information specialist at the center, said later that the center often services visitors who come to Roswell who have not planned their trips or are looking for things to do locally.

She said many people who come into the center think Roswell is basically a small rural town known only for its reputation as a landing site for aliens, when in fact it is the fourth largest city in New Mexico and has many other things to offer visitors.

In an age of computers and smart phones, people also enjoy asking a person a question as opposed to typing it in a search engine or using an app.

In addition to southeastern New Mexico, tourism is on the rise across the state.

The latest visitor center figures come a little less than a week after the New Mexico Department of Tourism released numbers showing that for the seventh straight year, the tourism industry generated its biggest economic impact ever.

Tourism pumped $6.6 billion into New Mexico’s economy, a press release from the office of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez stated. The number was a 3.2 percent increase from 2016 and amounts to almost $753,000 spent by visitors to New Mexico every hour.

Visitor spending in 2017 also brought in $662 million in state and local tax revenue and helped maintain 94,000 — or 1 in 12 — jobs in New Mexico.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.