Tourism, a more than $6 billion industry in New Mexico, is a leading employer and plays a critical role in diversifying the state’s economy.
In 2015, millions of dollars, which includes leisure and business travel, were spent in every county in the state, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department.
To support the state tourism New Mexico TRUE campaign, New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is helping rural communities to make a good first impression for the visitors.
The college’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management has developed TRUE Hospitality, a training program to help community leaders provide tourism employees and job seekers with the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to deliver high quality customer service to residents and visitors.
NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service county agents are conducting train-the-trainer sessions when requested.
“The idea started in Santa Rosa,” said Jon Boren, ACES associate dean and director of CES. “Community leaders saw a real economic development opportunity through tourism. They asked our county agent Leigh Ann Marez if she could provide some assistance with hospitality/tourism type training for the youth and adults.”
In the past, CES conducted a similar training program as part of the Rural Economic Development Through Tourism project. When federal funding was eliminated, the state lost that programing effort.
“We recognized we have had a void in that area and we needed some training at the county level,” Boren said. “We asked HRTM Professor Priscilla Bloomquist and training coordinator Allison Southworth to design a workshop and website support.”
Extension agents have been trained in the workshop material and they will train people, who can then teach employees in the hospitality industry in their community.
“This training material also has application for employment opportunities with non-tourism business,” Southworth said. “It’s just good, common sense customer service practices such as the importance of first impressions, positive attitude, communication skills and professional courtesy.”
In addition, there is an introduction to tourism and the New Mexico TRUE campaign. The workshop also encourages participants to know the attractions, activities and services in their area that they may share with visitors.
The three-part PowerPoint presentation, including interactive activities and video links, takes approximately three hours to conduct. Community leaders may contact their local county agent for further information.
Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU