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New Mexico Sees A Big Jump In Tourism

Events like Zozobra are bringing millions of tourists to New Mexico every year.
Kevin Meerschaert
Events like Zozobra are bringing millions of tourists to New Mexico every year.

New Mexico’s Tourism Department says the state saw strong growth in people coming to The Land of Enchantment in 2022 for both business travel and vacations.

The department presented its latest numberson Tuesday at Roundhouse to the Legislative Finance Committee.

Acting Tourism Secretary Lancing Adams told lawmakers that New Mexico saw 40.8 million total trips in 2022, an increase of 4.7% from 2021 and 9.3% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

He also says the number of business trips to the state has nearly doubled.

“If anyone is around a conference or convention center and they see all the folks with the badges that are there for a conference we are really starting to see that in New Mexico which is great to see,” he said. “The average length of stay has increased from 3.2 to 3.7 nights per trip and I think a lot of what we are doing in the California market is influencing that number and 49% of overnight visits included a cultural activity.”

According to the tourism department, over the past five years, New Mexico has seen $7.1 billion in annual visitor spending and tourism wage growth has exceeded all other New Mexico industries.

What is expected to be a major tourist draw is the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

Congress established the Route 66 Centennial Commission.
 The Route 66 Centennial Commission consists of members appointed from the eight states on the route’s path including New Mexico. 

Commissioners from each state are tasked with recommending events and other publicity to celebrate the anniversary.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.