NM Tourism Dept wants more money from Roundhouse

Posted at: 11/02/2012 6:44 PM
Updated at: 11/02/2012 8:06 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The New Mexico Tourism Department gets millions of tax dollars to help attract new visitors to the state and KOB Eyewitness News 4 learned Friday that the department will be asking the New Mexico State Legislature for additional funding.

Currently the legislature provides the department with about $9 million each year.

According to Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson, the department spends about $2.5 million of that funding on advertising contracts.

In an interview only seen on KOB4, Jacobson said she plans to ask the legislature for $2.5 million additional dollars to spend on advertising.

In April, the Tourism Department launched a focused campaign called New Mexico True that hits El Paso, Amarillo, Lubbock, Tucson, and Colorado Springs.

With the extra funding, Jacobson said she could take her marketing campaign to the Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix and Dallas markets.

With funding needs all over the state, especially in public education and public safety, the request may be a tough one on the Roundhouse floor.

"It’s our job in the legislature to weigh things and see where we can spend the money,"  Sen. Tim Jennings (D-Roswell) said.

Jennings said he’s not opposed to providing the Tourism Department with extra funding, but he wants to see Jacobson’s plan on how and where she will spend the money and we wants a guarantee that the marketing plans encourages visits across the entire state, not just to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Jacobson argued for every dollar spent on tourism advertising, the return on the investment is big.

"Tourism delivers 2 billion dollars in taxes,” Jacobson said. “That's enough to pay for 4,000 teachers. You give us money, we're able to invest that money, bring more people here and increase the tax base without having New Mexicans spend one additional tax dollar."

According to a spokesman for Governor Susana Martinez, the governor is in favor of the extra funding for the tourism-advertising budget.

The funding will be debated in January when the NM Legislative session begins.

EXTRA: A recent jobs report released by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions revealed tourism jobs are up when many other job sectors in the state are down. Overall, New Mexico lost 9,200 jobs in the last year and the situation would have been worse if it weren’t for the tourism industry.