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New Mexico city near Navajo Nation sees tourism jump

GALLUP, N.M. – A western New Mexico city surrounded by Navajo culture and Native arts and crafts is experiencing a tourism boom not seen since the 1970s.

Officials in Gallup, New Mexico, say the city has seen an increase of about 7 to 10 percent in visitors thanks to foreign tourists, The Gallup Independent reports .

Helping drive the interest in Native culture and crafts is a favorable exchange rate that makes it economical for foreign tourists to visit in the summer, according to tourism officials in the city.

Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce director Bill Lee says the area is seeing visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Belgium.

“I’m getting really excited about the numbers we are seeing (now),” Lee said. “We are seeing increases from Asian countries as well.”

Lee also credits the increased numbers on promotions from the chamber, working in partnership with the city of Gallup and Tourism Marketing Manager Jennifer Lazarz.

During the last two years, the city has been promoting the region with the “Gallup Real True” campaign that includes images of outdoor adventure, Navajo culture and Native arts and crafts.

Area officials have been attending the biggest trade fair on tourism in the world, the International Powwow, and have been pushing for more travel tours for this area.

Gallup is located on the edge of the Navajo Nation and sits along historic Route 66.

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 research firm Longwoods International.

Martinez launched the “New Mexico True” campaign to draw out-of-state visitors in 2011.