Land of Disenchantment

 

The Territory of New Mexico became the 47th state of the union in 1912, so the state is celebrating its centennial this year. It's also looking for a new marketing slogan to revive its tourism industry. 

For nearly 80 years, it's been "the Land of Enchantment," but the spell seems to be wearing off. As the Wall Street Journal explained in a story published in January, "Overnight tourist trips in New Mexico have dropped by nearly 10% in the past three years, and spending on everything from souvenir magnets to turquoise jewelry fell by hundreds of millions of dollars." 

Last fall, the state's tourism department convened some focus groups in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. "Enchantment" was not among the statements, which included responses like "close to Arizona," "arid and barren," "artsy," "dull" and "dreamcatchers." 

Some focus group participants associated New Mexico, which is landlocked, with beaches, and for years, some Americans haven't quite connected New Mexico with America. I have a friend who lived in Boston for a couple of years and during that time, went to mail a present to her parents in Belen, N.M.; the postal clerk wanted her to fill out a customs deceleration because New Mexico just had be a foreign country.

State Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson, whose previous job involved promoting Snapple and Quaker Oats, said there should be a new advertising and marketing campaign that will attempt to brand New Mexico with the key themes of "adventure steeped in rich culture" and "the destination that feeds the soul."
 
The state is changing some of its promotion; there won't be any more Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade floats featuring extra-terrestrials from Roswell, and the state may revive its magazine aimed at tourists. But its $2.5 million tourism promotion budget may not be enough to make New Mexico competitive; neighboring Colorado spends $7 million. 

That seems to pay off, as the same focus groups that found New Mexico dull were asked about Colorado and provided responses like "God's country," "clean air," "beautiful mountains" and "skiing." No one seemed to remember a slogan that Colorado once tried to market, "Above it all," or as we noted in taverns back then, "It all flows downhill from here." 

While New Mexico looks for a new slogan, Colorado's tourism director, former state Sen. Al White, offered a free suggestion: "New Mexico: Just south of Paradise." 

When some New Mexicans took umbrage, White apologized as Jacobson invited him to come south for some skiing. White said it wasn't original, that he'd first heard it several years ago from the Cowboy State to describe Colorado in relation to Wyoming. 

So that will not be the slogan. While New Mexico has a rich history, there are some veins that probably shouldn't be tapped. Beset by the corruption of the Santa Fe Ring in the 1870s, legend has it that President Ulysses S. Grant (who was decorated for bravery as a young lieutenant in the 1846-48 Mexican War) remarked that it would be worth going to war with Mexico again if it could thereby be forced into taking New Mexico back.

As a Coloradan who enjoys occasional trips to the south, I offer "New Mexico: Kind of like home, but different." Or maybe "Tired of the Old Mexico? Try the new one." Or with Roswell in mind, "First stop for intelligent life in the universe." 

 Essays in the Range blog are not written by High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Ed Quillen writes from Salida, Colo.

Image courtesy Flickr user David Herrera.

High Country News Classifieds
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.