New Mexico sees record tourism due to post-pandemic travel

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Whether it’s the views, balloons or the green chile, New Mexico has something for everyone.

“New Mexico is incredibly special, you know, we all know that. We refer to NM True as adventure steeped in culture. So what that really means is that in all parts of the state there is something about their local identity that they can use for tourism purposes,” said Cody Johnson, a communication director with the New Mexico Tourism Department. 

In 2022, overall New Mexico received $11.2 billion in tourism revenue, $8.3 billion of that was in direct visitor funding. The last record for direct visitor spending was set in 2019 with a total of $7.4 billion.

“When the pandemic started, we believed that it could take anywhere from three to seven years to recover. But here we are in 2023, and we’re talking about 2022 setting the new record for visitor spending. I think we could say we really recovered as a state when it comes to tourism,” said Johnson. 

The Department of Tourism pointed to two key factors in last year’s record-breaking revenue. 

“One of the things that we knew would happen was that there would be a quick and large return of leisure travel. We knew there was going to be pent-up demand, we saw that happen, more recently we’ve seen a much stronger demand in business travel,” Johnson said.

In a separate study earlier this year, the department said business travel doubled from 2021 to 2022. 

To top things off, when people touch down in the Land of Enchantment they’re spending more money than in years past.

“Now that we’re moving further and further from the pandemic it is definitely something that boosts the state, it’s new money, it’s tax revenue for local and county governments which help support social services,” said Johnson. 

He said it’s going to take a while to see the economic impact from this year’s Balloon Fiesta. However, from what he saw we should be on par with the 2022 tourism revenue.

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