Virginia Clark/Taos News

The visitor's kiosk in Taos Plaza helps provide tourists with information on the surrounding area.

The town and county of Taos received approximately $365,000 from the New Mexico Tourism Department (NMTD) to help the area bounce back from pandemic-slowed tourism.

The department took requests from applicants throughout the state, and chose to help those most affected economically by the pandemic as part of the New Mexico True campaign.

Both municipalities worked together to pitch in Lodger's Tax revenue for a two-to-one fiscal match from the tourism department. With the combined revenue from the town and county's joint contribution of $182,579 and NMTD's match of $365,158, Taos now has $547,737 in funding to support New Mexico True's "Adventure Steeped in Culture" campaign -- "a robust marketing program that will benefit Taos businesses, attractions and events," according to a press release from the town.

The funding will help Taos advertise in new (and previously unaffordable) ways, said town of Taos Marketing and Tourism Director Karina Armijo. "We picked the [advertising] options that we thought were best for our region," she said.

She cited advertising on digital billboards in airports and on sites like Travelocity and Expedia as new marketing options that were previously "very, very expensive." She also said they are trying more modern approaches like "advertising on what they call 'connected TV,' like Hulu and Netflix. We're also doing radio like Spotify, Pandora [and] I Heart Radio. A lot of those we wouldn't do just because we didn't have the funds to do it …"

She described the money as "five years worth of media buys in one year," and said the funding gives Taos and the surrounding communities "an opportunity to sort of expand our marketing reach through new channels."

In particular, Armijo said the money will come in handy as Taos approaches its "shoulder season," a travel period between peak and off-peak seasons.

"Because of the pent up demand, right now we don't have to do much," she said. "My concern is what happens when that pent up demand stops or slows down." She added that the money allows them to "maintain the Taos brand top of mind" heading into the late fall and winter, when travel is much slower.

The goal of the campaign is to stick to the "Adventure Steeped in Culture Campaign," which helps to show visitors the amazing outdoor activities the state has to offer while bringing awareness to the deep cultures that exist within. "Whatever you pick in Taos, whether it's an artist's retreat or hiking adventure, we're surrounded by many different cultures," said Armijo. "The tagline really encompasses what Taos offers."

Armijo also recognized the importance of working together with the county on projects like these. "[The county was] doing certain things, and we were doing different things. So deciding to allocate a little bit of their funding to work together with grants specifically just stretches our dollar more," she said. "I think this shows that we do work together … and we do support each other with a lot of different things that people don't realize. And I think this is a good example of that."

The town and county had gone after a previous tourism grant together prior to COVID, but it was cancelled. With the new two-to-one match, Armijo said they decided to up the dollar amount since they had "already laid the groundwork."

Taos County Manager Brent Jaramillo said in the press release the county is "grateful to the State for recognizing and supporting this collaboration and awarding us with significant funding to help launch a strong, regional marketing program that will provide us with a competitive advantage in rebuilding Taos' tourism industry."

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