SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The governor is pushing for more money in next year’s budget to restore the state’s tourism industry. The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates that the $25 million annual investment in tourism promotion could shorten the recovery time to three years after estimating it could take up to seven years for a full recovery.

An analysis by the Tourism Department estimates the economic injury was roughly $4.3 billion in 2020 and as of November, caused the unemployment of 20,000 workers from the leisure and hospitality sector. NMTD reports that the estimated economic injury includes losses in visitor spending, state and local tax revenue, and unemployment benefits.

According to the department’s analysis, it is estimated that the pandemic cost the state an average of $337 million per month in visitor spending and $163 million in state and local tax revenue. NMTD analysis suggests that one of the strongest economic development strategies that may yield a strong return for the state would be to get the 20,000 unemployed workers displaced by the pandemic back to work.

The department states this could be done by filling previously vacated jobs or through a specialized training program. A flat budget of $17.1 million for Fiscal Year 22 was recommended for the Tourism Department in the Executive Budget. The complete FY22 Executive Budget Recommendation can be viewed online.