New Mexico True is collaborating for National Park Gateway Communities. Courtesy/MTD
New Mexico True Collaborates For National Park Gateway Communities During Shutdown
SANTA FE ― The New Mexico Tourism Department—in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department—launched a new campaign including a consumer webpage to minimize negative impact of the partial federal government shutdown to gateway communities.
New Mexico and its 15 National Park Service (NPS) units have been directly impacted by the partial shutdown. The tourism industry, specifically, has felt the effect, especially NPS gateway communities (communities which border NPS units), which heavily rely on visitation to national parks, monuments and historic sites to fuel their economy.
“We are proud to work with other state agencies and our tourism partners, developing initiatives that continue to grow tourism in our state,” Cabinet Secretary Jen Schroer said. “Visitation to our parks, monuments and cultural treasures are vital to our state’s economy, especially gateway communities.”
“We understand the direct impact closing parks has to New Mexico’s economy and look forward to working with our friends at Tourism and Cultural Affairs to provide support to our communities impacted during the federal shutdown,” EMNRD Cabinet Secretary Designate Sarah Cottrell Propst said. “State Parks are open and offering free day use to furloughed federal employees.”
“Our nine historic sites and eight museums share New Mexico’s rich culture with our visitors, offering engaging opportunities to explore history, art, science, culture and more,” said Debra Garcia y Griego, Cabinet Secretary Designate for the Department of Cultural Affairs. “We are pleased to be working with other agencies and communities across the state to ensure visitors know we are open and ready to welcome them.”
The potential negative economic impact on gateway communities in New Mexico is substantial. During the 2013 shutdown, NPS estimates that New Mexico’s parks, monuments and historic sites combined lost an average of 3,461 visitors per day and gateway communities lost an average of $146,389 per day in visitor spending. All told, the estimated loss to New Mexico parks and communities during the 2013 shutdown was 55,376 visitors and $2.34M in spending.
In addition to the economic impacts of the shutdown, New Mexico’s national parks, monuments and historic sites are under threat from the impact of unmonitored use. Most of the State’s NPS units do not have visitor services, including access to restroom facilities, trash collection and visitors’ centers. Emergency services are also limited. The lack of services and enforcement of park regulation could lead to negative environmental impact.
The launch of the new Great New Mexico Itineraries webpage on NewMexico.org shows the Tourism Department’s commitment to the industry and its economic impact. The page provides visitors with alternative regional itineraries to national parks, monuments and historic sites to minimize impact during the shutdown.
For example, tourists planning to visit White Sands National Monument are invited to visit instead the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo and the nearby historic sites of Lincoln and Fort Stanton, a combination that highlights New Mexico’s contributions to both space and military history.
Tourism industry representatives across the state are also offering visitors alternate attractions while in their gateway communities.
“With the current shutdown, there’s a common misconception that all parks, attractions and outdoor recreation areas are closed,” said Executive Director Tonya Stinson of the Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are encouraging travelers to visit, explore and take in the unique culture and history found in our area.”
“If you are planning your vacation to Carlsbad New Mexico we say come on because we have so much more the whole family can do,” said Lisa Boeke of the Carlsbad Chamber.