New Mexico Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Jen Schroer gave a presentation at last week’s Sandoval Economic Alliance luncheon .
(Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

New Mexico Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Jen Schroer verified that the tourism industry is one of the fastest-growing industries statewide at Sandoval Economic Alliance’s quarterly luncheon Tuesday at Santa Ana Star Center.

Schroer said the tourism industry ranks close to oil and gas in the state for creating not just jobs, but careers.

“The tourism industry is not just entry-level positions; it has a great career path attached to it as well,” she said.

According to Schroer, New Mexico is doing better than the national tourism average.

“We are outperforming the U.S. average by 79 percent,” she said.

A good reason for this number comes down to the New Mexico True advertising campaign, she said.

“If people see this ad and see it as positive, chances are they will also see New Mexico as a good place to work, live, go to school and possibly retire,” she said.

Schroer said this ad campaign works to reverse some of the stigmas about New Mexico that people may not understand nationally.

“Can we drink the water?” is one question Schroer said she has overheard some people ask when the subject of New Mexico comes up.

“This is the kind of brand awareness that can help dispel these kinds of things, especially when it comes to economic development and attracting businesses to our area,” she said.

Schroer said the New Mexico True brand, which started in 2012, has grown around the state and has been successful enough that many businesses want to attach their names to it.

“We don’t pay them and we receive no money in return; they just like being associated with the brand,” she said.

Changing gears, Schroer said her department did a study in 2015 that pointed out colors more effective for advertising.

“We now know that an orange button is more effective than a green button,” she said. “We also learned that in Phoenix, they don’t want to see balloons. So we don’t show them balloons; we show them something else.”

Schroer said her creative department has worked out ways to advertise in different states that are more effective than just showing the snow and balloon advertisements that used to be the norm.

“We looked at each area and put together an ad that would appeal to that area specifically,” she said.

Schroer also spoke about keeping the New Mexico True brand fresh since it is coming up on almost 10 years of existence.

“We call it New Mexico True 3.0,” she said. “We want to make sure we are working with local governments and private businesses, plus we want to expand our presence media-wise.”

Schroer said the state has many visitor centers and chambers of commerce, and many local governments have tourism directors who can help push the New Mexico True brand in the media.

Right now, the New Mexico True brand exists in San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Austin, Dallas and Chicago, Schroer said.

“What we want to do is double-down with the $3 million marketing budget we have for this year in these existing markets,” she said.

Schroer displayed a video that will run as an advertisement in these areas.

“We don’t just want to show landscapes; we want to show people and what they are experiencing here in New Mexico,” she said. “That brand promise is about being authentic, real and true.”