Updated: August 31, 2020 06:43 PM
Created: August 31, 2020 06:39 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Officials with the New Mexico Tourism Department said the state is losing nearly $403 million each month in visitor spending, and has lost around $2 billion in total between March and July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jen Schroer, secretary of the State Tourism Department, told lawmakers during a virtual committee meeting Monday that 2019 was a record-breaking year for the tourism industry, with around $7.4 billion spent at local businesses like restaurants.
“That future really started to change in early 2020,” Schroer said.
The pandemic has had a staggering impact on revenue, with around $82 million lost in state tax revenue and $22 million lost in local revenue. More than 23,000 industry workers have also been laid off.
“These are families, these are people’s small businesses, these are artisans, and these are event producers,” Schroer said. “These are also vendors. We forget sometimes that even our food distributors have seen a decline, our spirit distributors have seen a decline because our restaurants are seeing a decline.”
Schroer outlines several campaigns the state has launched to help businesses recover, including one called New Mexico Safe Certified.
"This is a free training program for organizations to help support safe practices for not only their employees, but also for their customers," she said.
Schroer said the data suggests a 6 to 7 year recovery period for the tourism industry, but it could happen in three years in the state invests more money to boost the industry.
“This is a big hole, but what we know about this industry is that it does come back. It came back after wars, it came back after 9/11, it came back after the 2008 recession—and New Mexico in 2019 saw and realized the greatest year ever for tourism,” she said.
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