The New Mexico Tourism Department is furthering its commitment to destination stewardship with the launch of the Destination Forward program.

NMTD identified 10 tourism-related infrastructure projects intended to enhance the visitor experience at tourism-related amenities, facilities and points-of-interest throughout New Mexico. Each project will be supported through a grant from NMTD that will cover up to $500,000 in expenses. Destination Forward grants will support the renovation, modernization, planning, design and construction of new or existing tourism infrastructure projects.

One of the Destination Forward grants was awarded to El Zócalo Complex in Bernalillo, which will get $50,000.

“I’m very proud of the work and dedication from the Tourism Department staff and community partners that allowed for us to bring the Destination Forward program to life,” said Acting Tourism Secretary Lancing Adams. “Our research shows us that demand for travel to New Mexico has never been higher. This program will help New Mexico communities better meet that demand so we can continue to deliver high-quality visitor experiences for folks who visit the Land of Enchantment.”

El Zócalo (the meeting place) was first constructed in 1874. The Sisters of Loretto Nuns convent was a gathering place where people in Bernalillo came to meet, learn and exchange ideas. El Zócalo is a meeting place of historic proportions — a refurbished 135-year-old convent with up-to-date amenities steeped in history.

El Zócalo now offers almost 2,400 square feet of meeting space embraced in adobe walls and brick floors, as well as outdoor and indoor spaces to meet event space needs. People can rent the former convent for weddings, quinceañeras, reunions, team dinners and even funerals.

In 2021, NMTD began to work with all seven Councils of Government to identify tourism-related infrastructure projects in need of investment. Through this work, NMTD identified more than 100 tourism-related infrastructure projects for cultural facilities, convention facilities, museums, outdoor recreation, fairgrounds and more. Destination Forward was inspired because of that work.