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State launches ‘refresh’ of tourism brand

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The New Mexico Tourism Department has been involved in several initiatives to boost the state’s hard-hit tourism industry as it looks to recover from COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns.

Efforts have included conducting research to determine economic injury and gauge how New Mexico residents view tourism and the state’s aviation industry, coordinating “stay and shop local” campaigns, and creating the Strategic Events Recovery Readiness program to prepare New Mexico’s largest tourist events for a comeback once the state fully reopens, which tourism officials have said will occur once widespread vaccinations result in herd immunity among the state’s population.

Another effort announced Tuesday is the revision of the “New Mexico True” brand in use since 2012.

“Until the last unprecedented 12 months, New Mexico True led nine years of record-breaking tourism growth in the state, delivering on the brand’s mission to make the state of New Mexico a premier destination for venturesome travelers,” said Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer.

She said the brand not only won national creative awards, but is credited with boosting tourism dollars to the state by hundreds of millions of dollars during the past nine years. In 2019, the state’s tourism industry brought in about $737 million in local and state taxes. The “New Mexico True” hashtag has been used 1.6 million times and it appears on more than 400 state-made products. Parts of the brand also have been picked up by other states.

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The new concept developed by the Tourism Department and a Texas advertising and marketing firm features new fonts and places the Zia symbol that appears on the state flag and represents multiculturalism in the middle of the “New Mexico True” headline as a visual centerpiece.

The “brand refresh” also will amplify the “Land of Enchantment” message that first appeared on New Mexico license plates in 1941 and is often used to describe the state.

Another feature of the campaign will couple contemporary visuals with the stories of historic events or the words of historically significant people, such as artist Georgia O’Keefe.

Cody Johnson, public information officer for the Tourism Department, said the department is not planning at this moment to launch third-party advertising or promotional campaigns, but that it will use its own social media sites, websites and publications to air videos and place ads featuring the new concepts.

Schroer said the state campaign will seek to incorporate visuals or stories from every region of the state. Johnson added that, in the months ahead, the city of Roswell or other entities in Chaves County can work with the department through its cooperative marketing and advertising program to develop its own ads and promotions for local assets, with grant funding available to help with that effort.

Juanita Jennings, city of Roswell Public Affairs director, said the new brand is already being incorporated in some of its social media sites.

“We’re very excited for the new brand design and love the futuristic look it has. We believe it will tie in nicely with our brand and together (we’ll) have some cohesive TRUE campaigns. We look forward to the cooperative advertising as we begin to revitalize our tourism economy,” she said.

Practical help for the tourism-related business has included directing the New Mexico Small Business Centers to provide technical assistance and guidance specific to industry businesses, Johnson said. He said that service helped save 830 tourism jobs and secure about $27 million in investments since 2020.

Schroer also said during Tuesday’s presentation that the Tourism Department was allocated $7 million by the New Mexico Legislature specifically for tourism restoration, which it intends to use to bring visitors to the state.

According to the Tourism Economic Injury dashboard published by the department, Chaves County has a score of “6” on an eight-point scale for the severity of its tourism-related downturn due to the pandemic. That score is based on several factors, including trends in tourism revenues; the reliance a county has on conventions, events or tourism spending; and its ratio of short-term rentals compared to traditional lodging.

The dashboard also indicates that Chaves County experienced a decrease in tourism revenues of 6.72% from November 2019 to November 2020.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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