City government to pay much more to chamber

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By David Giuliani

The Chamber of Commerce is getting a big increase in money from the city.

The City Council this week approved a contract for the next fiscal year that amounts to $192,000, which is up from last year’s $105,000.

Some of that increase is because of the transfer of an events coordinator position from the city government to the chamber, amounting to $35,000. The remaining increase of more than $50,000 in the chamber’s budget is part of what its leaders call an ambitious effort to market Las Vegas regionally.

The money would go toward such things as billboards, print and TV advertising, special events, a visitors guide, responses to information requests and a web site.

Elmer Martinez, the city’s community development director, told the council that the chamber wants to focus on the three-state region of New Mexico, Texas and Colorado because rising gas prices are pushing many travelers to limit their distances. He said lodgers tax revenue, which funds the chamber contract, has increased.

“If they improve their program, focus on the region and do more marketing, it can be an effective tool to increase the lodgers tax,” Martinez said.

Mayor Tony Marquez noted that during a recent trip, he found that New Mexico’s U.S. senators in Washington don’t have tourist information on Las Vegas in their offices, as they do for other towns. Also, he didn’t find any Las Vegas information at the Albuquerque airport.

Mike Fields, the chamber’s president, said his group would look to see if it could get information to those places.

“For $190,000, I think we should,” Marquez said.