Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - Tourism promoters and businesspeople can learn ways to improve marketing and obtain government assistance at the seventh annual Rural Tourism Conference April 24 and 25 in Rio Rancho.
About 200 participants are expected to attend, said Dora Dominguez, director of New Mexico State University's Rural Economic Development Through Tourism program, which is sponsoring the event.
"The conference helps folks from rural areas learn practical ways to increase tourism," Dominguez said. "Workshops offer detailed orientation about where to go and what to do to get technical assistance and funding, and they offer effective marketing techniques. It's nuts and bolts stuff with great networking opportunities."
REDTT leaders chose Sandoval County for this year's conference because it's a central location that allows people from distant rural communities to attend, said Nancy Cordero, program coordinator. Last year, the conference took place in Deming.
"Most REDTT members are from southern counties, so this gives them an opportunity to see what people in a northern county are doing to attract tourism," Cordero said. "Tourism promoters in Sandoval County can also meet and learn from their southern neighbors."
The REDTT program, which began in 1992, aims to boost economic development in rural areas by promoting local tourist attractions. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, REDTT offers technical assistance, training and grants to 17 New Mexico counties to encourage tourism in those areas.
Sandoval County joined REDTT in 2000, Cordero said. REDTT funding and technical assistance have helped some towns in Sandoval County develop new festivals, such as Cuba's end-of-year Holiday Hoe Down, which kicked off in 2001 with the world's longest burrito.
"It's an extremely rural county that offers spectacular outdoor beauty, and it's rich in culture and history," Cordero said. "Sandoval will benefit from the exposure this conference offers."
The first day, conference participants will get tours of Sandoval County that include excursions to historic sites in Corrales, the J& R Vintage Auto Museum in Bernalillo, the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, and the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument near Cochiti Peublo.
A trade show that evening will highlight tourism attractions in other counties, followed by the REDTT awards banquet. John and Jim Garcia, owners of the hospitality training and consulting firm Hospitotally Inc., are the banquet's keynote speakers.
A variety of workshops on April 25 will cover downtown revitalization programs, media relations, agritourism, Internet marketing and Website development, and government programs that offer funding and technical assistance for tourism promotion.
The conference will conclude with a luncheon featuring speeches by Johnny Montoya, marketing director for the state tourism department, and Janet Green, director of NMSU's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
The conference takes place at Best Western Rio Rancho Inn and Conference Center, 1465 Rio Rancho Drive SE. Registration costs $80 for REDTT and Tourism Association of New Mexico members, and $110 for all others.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call the REDTT office at (505) 646-5994 or visit the REDTT Website at www.redtt.org.
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