April 17, 2012 / 3:13 PM / in 6 years

New Mexico tourism officials fight state's dull reputation

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Tourism officials in New Mexico are launching a new slogan, “New Mexico True,” that they hope will change perceptions of the state which was described by a focus group last year as “barren,” “dull” or merely “close to Arizona.”

Undated handout image courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department shows a tourism campaign advertisement of a llama trek. REUTERS/New Mexico Tourism Department/Handout

The goals of the campaign are to lure adventure-seeking young people to the state and to combat the misconception that there’s nothing to do there, said state tourism secretary Monique Jacobson.

“New Mexico is about site doing, not sightseeing,” Jacobson told Reuters. “It’s a place with true beauty, adventure and rich, authentic experiences.”

The $2 million campaign kicks off on Tuesday in Texas, Arizona and Colorado.

Television advertising spots highlight couples, families and individuals relaxing in natural hot springs, kayaking, making pottery or guiding llamas down winding forest paths.

Undated handout image courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department shows a promotional advertisement of the Pueblo Bonito cultural site. New Mexico tourism officials on Tuesday are launching a new slogan - New Mexico True - that they hope will change perceptions of the state as "barren," "dull" or merely "close to Arizona," as focus-group participants said last year. REUTERS/New Mexico Tourism Department/Handout

Print ad tag lines include “Adventure that feeds the soul begins here.”

The campaign got off to a rocky start earlier this year when its casting call ad requested Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic actors. Newspaper editorials castigated state officials for a lack of tact.

Jacobson declined to comment on the casting call, saying: “We hope that’s behind us now. The spot really does celebrate New Mexico.”

New Mexico’s $5.5-billion tourism industry employs more people than any other industry in the state, accounting for 56,000 jobs. Yet the state ranks 38 in the country in terms of number of visitors, according to Jacobson.

Some 29.8 million people visit New Mexico each year, but many of them are just passing through. The state gets 13 million overnight visitors per year, Jacobson said.

Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune

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