GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A western New Mexico city that bills itself as the gateway to Native American culture is experiencing a tourism boom.
Officials in Gallup, New Mexico, say the city has seen a 7 to 10 percent increase in visitation over last year, mostly thanks to foreign tourists, the Gallup Independent reports.
Helping drive the interest is a favorable exchange rate that makes it economical for foreign tourists to visit in the summer, and promotions that tout outdoor recreation, and Native American arts and crafts, tourism officials say.
Bill Lee, director of the Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce, said the area is seeing visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Belgium.
"I'm getting really excited about the numbers we are seeing," Lee said. "We are seeing increases from Asian countries as well."
Lee also credits the tourism bump to a partnership among the chamber, the city of Gallup and tourism marketing manager Jennifer Lazarz.
For the past two years, the city has been promoting the region with the "Gallup. Real. True" campaign that includes images of climbing among red rocks, hiking and biking, nightly Native American dances, jewelry and museums.
Area officials also have been attending large trade fairs on tourism and pushing for more travel tours in the Gallup region. The city that sits along historic Route 66 borders the Navajo Nation. Zuni Pueblo lies to the south.
Overall, New Mexico has seen tourism increases statewide. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez recently announced that 35.4 million trips were taken in New Mexico in 2017 — breaking the record set in 2016 of 34.4 million.
It was the sixth-straight year the state saw record-breaking tourism numbers, based on survey data from New Mexico visitors collected by the research firm, Longwoods International.
Martinez launched the "New Mexico True" campaign to draw out-of-state visitors in 2011.
Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com