ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Tourism Department announced it will allow some state businesses to use the popular "New Mexico True" brand on their products in an attempt to expand the tourism slogan that officials believe has drawn more visitors to the Southwestern state.
State officials said last week it will launch a New Mexico True certified program to highlight businesses that are "uniquely New Mexican" while also encouraging more businesses to look into moving to the state.
To earn a certification, products must be 100 percent made in New Mexico, animals and livestock must be raised in New Mexico, or products must be grown in the state, officials said.
"The New Mexico True brand is doing great things for our state, providing opportunities to diversify our economy and create jobs in small towns and large cities around New Mexico," said Gov. Susana Martinez. "But even more opportunities exist to draw more attention to the people, places and now products that make New Mexico such a great place to visit, work and live."
Four years ago, the New Mexico Tourism Department unveiled the New Mexico True campaign, which promised tourists that they would encounter "adventures steeped in culture." Officials said the campaign was aimed at painting New Mexico as a place for outdoor fun and cultural exploration.
Commercials from the campaign feature such celebrities like Carlos Condit, an Albuquerque-born mixed-martial artist, and state attractions like Route 66 and Taos Pueblo.
Another online video from the campaign has Martinez taking a kayak ride in the rapids of the Rio Grande. On the video, she screams and paddles in the rapids to a soundtrack of the New Mexico True campaign.
Officials say the tourism campaign helped draw 33 million visitors to New Mexico in 2014 — the largest number of visitors on record.
Earlier this year, Catholic Health Initiatives St. Joseph's Children, a Catholic community health organization, launched a parody campaign, "New Mexico Truth" to draw attention to child poverty in New Mexico.
The organization's CEO, Allen Sanchez, said he didn't have a problem with state officials using resources to promote New Mexico products like chile and food. But Sanchez wished there was a same strong effort to fight child poverty in the state.
"If we invest more in social programs, we will see the effects," Sanchez said.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .