Editorial: Return on Investment Justifies Tourism Ads

What a refreshing way to close out 2012 and usher in 2013 — a state Cabinet department that can provide actual return-on-investment statistics for the tax dollars it has spent.
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That's what New Mexico's Tourism Department has to show for the $1.2 million it shelled out for print, television, digital and outdoor advertising in the 'New Mexico True' campaign it took to three regional markets: West Texas, Colorado Springs and Tucson.

The department had Longwoods International — a firm that for 30 years has specialized in determining return on investment in the tourism industry — examine the campaign's impact over its first six months. And it looks like New Mexico True has been very effective.

While its methodology is proprietary, in general terms, Longwoods uses a core group of 500,000 consumers to explore the kinds of trips taken every quarter. It hones that group down to the target area being examined, factors out people who routinely visit an area, factors in ad exposure and then extrapolates impact. And it says the first six months of the New Mexico True campaign delivered 264,000 additional trips to the state, $35.1 million in visitor spending and $3.6 million paid in state and local taxes.

That translates into $3 for every $1 spent on the ads.

Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson says 'it was critical we do this study so that we were able to prove or disprove — and in this case it did prove — that the investment is working for the state of New Mexico.'

Jacobson purposefully did not ask for additional money last budget because she wanted to make taxpayers' current investment deliver first. This coming session she plans to ask lawmakers to double her budget, to $5 million, so she can move beyond advertising in drive markets and include fly markets like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Tourism accounts for $5.5 billion in visitor spending each year in the Land of Enchantment, and growing that industry by effectively promoting the state's amazing attractions makes fiscal sense.