The Rural Pathway Project (RPP) in New Mexico is assisting communities with building up their own tourism assets.
Suzy Lawrence is the Tourism Development Coordinator for the New Mexico Tourism Department and recently talked about the project and how rural communities can build their local economies through tourism. Rather than simply send money to communities, the project is a capacity-building effort where the department works “with stakeholders to help identify profitable product opportunities and then provide the necessary resources they need to develop that plan and be successful for the long run.”
What those profitable products look like depends on the community need and community goals, according to Lawrence.
“My whole drive, everything that I do, is to increase the quality of life for New Mexicans by increasing revenue streams through our communities,” she said.
When Lawrence and her team goes into a community, they focus on making sure time is spent with time-intensive tasks, like getting a development plan in place, “tying the loose ends, dot the I’s and cross the t’s” so the community has everything it needs to then implement a well-planned program.
“The people are the ones that have the ability to make the change,” she added. “What I do is just offer that hammock of support.”
This smart investment approach looks to create products that bring in people and put them in front of local merchants. This encourages more dollars to be spent in local communities and allows businesses to grow.
In this episode, Lawrence expands on the project and the tourist experiences that are being created. She discusses what kind of efforts are most likely to create jobs. She also shares how rural tourism affects other sectors of local economies, and shares advice on how rural tourism organizations around the country can make an significant economic impact on their communities.