- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - Tourism continues to be a bright spot in New Mexico’s otherwise struggling economy.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Monday that while the number of visitors grew by less than 1 percent last year, overall spending by tourists increased by 7 percent in 2013.

That translates to roughly $300 million in new revenue taken in by communities throughout the state. As a result of this growth, the governor said, the leisure and hospitality industry was able to create 1,700 new jobs last year, with an additional 700 new jobs already created between January and May of 2014.

“Tourism is a strong economic driver and a critical component of the diverse economy we are working to create in communities throughout New Mexico,” Martinez said in a statement.

Tourism “leads to new jobs and growth in cities, towns, and villages throughout the state,” her statement read.

Martinez and Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson say the increases represent the third consecutive year of tourism growth in New Mexico, and the second consecutive year of record-breaking tourism growth.

Overall visitor spending has grown more than 24 percent since 2010. Over that time period, officials say, an additional 2.4 million visitors came to New Mexico, with a record 32.2 million people traveling to New Mexico last year alone.

The numbers are good news in state that a number of recent reports and federal statistics show is one of only a few in the nation that is losing jobs.

Jacobson said the growth in spending by tourists in New Mexico is nearly double the national rate of 4.5 percent last year.

She credits the growth with the “New Mexico True” campaign that was launched in early 2012. The state has also increased its advertising budget.

“It is exciting to see another record-breaking year for tourism,” Jacobson said. “This data continues to reinforce the point that New Mexico True is working by attracting active visitors who stay longer and spend more money all over the state.”

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