Tourism / Outdoor Recreation (Urban & Rural)

Whether it is skiing, fishing, hiking, biking or camping, Recreation Tourism is an important and accessible tool for urban and rural communities, especially those in the MRCOG region. With three state parks, the Jemez Mountains Scenic Byway, the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands, and the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, the MRCOG region is a playground waiting to be explored. 


In addition to the resources abundant in the region, the economic returns from utilizing the public lands and outdoor spaces is significant. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent of current GDP in 2016 and employment in the sector grew faster than the overall economy that year. A report from Outdoor Industry put the New Mexico economic returns from outdoor recreation at $9.9 billion with 99,000 direct jobs. 

In the 2019 Legislative Session, Governor Lujan Grisham signed a bill creating an Outdoor Recreation Division of the Economic Development Department touting its untapped potential as an economic engine for New Mexico’s economy. 

Tourism or visitor-related activities in general are an important source of economic revenue in the region and throughout the state. In 2017, the state saw $6.6 billion of economic impact. In the metro region, tourism includes visits to monuments and museums, conventions, hotel stays, as well as cultural visits, ecotourism, and outdoor recreation. The region has also begun to look at medical tourism and other special-purpose tourism, such as film-centric tourism, music festivals, and other attractors.

In rural communities, the region has an opportunity to capitalize on its outdoor assets: mountains, rivers, mesas; and the endless activities one can pursue, like skiing, rafting, and horseback riding, to name a few. New opportunities include golf, yoga/spa/natural beauty retreats, soccer/softball and other sports tourism. 

Medical tourism draws patients with medical needs to our world class medical facilities, connects them with extended stay hotel options, and introduces them to all attractions the region has to offer. 

In 2018, the region employed nearly 12,000 workers in tourism-sector jobs or nearly 3 percent of all workers in the four-county region.

  1. Urban Tourism / Outdoor Recreation
  2. Rural Tourism / Outdoor Recreation

Urban Tourism / Outdoor Recreation

Urban Tourism / Outdoor Recreation
Strategies for doing this? • Create visitor experiences and map/market them
• Develop a coordinated cultural corridor that includes visitor sites throughout the region. Co-market the corridor
• Preserve cultural assets and promote environmental stewardship that enhances the outdoor experience
• Coordinated transportation and expanded infrastructure opportunities
• Build on health/medical tourism models to attract visitors for medical procedures and/or for natural therapeutic approaches
• Create a wellness hub for visitors to get information about services and accommodations
• Improve softball facilities, develop a downtown soccer stadium, and other facilities that draw visitors for specific sports
• Coordinate with new Department of outdoor recreation for youth participation and expanded infrastructure
• Support a stadium in Albuquerque for the NM United soccer team
• Support Albuquerque studio tours
• Support additional direct flights to Albuquerque
How would we know if we were successful?

What are the key metrics?
• Increase in visitors to key events such as the Balloon Fiesta, tournaments, concerts, monuments, and museums.
• Hotel stays
Who are the catalysts?

Who should be accountable for this?
• Cultural corridor partners
• Hotels
• NM Rail Runner/Rio Metro Transit
• City Cultural Services/NM Dept of Tourism
How do we build resilience in this focus area? • NM True brand
• Market the region as ABQ/Health & Wellness Hub