The New Mexico Tourism Department is among 13 western states that have signed an historic agreement with U. S. government agencies pledging mutual cooperation in promoting tourism on federal lands while protecting natural, historic and cultural resources.

The Western States Tourism Policy Council (WSTPC) and leaders of nine federal agencies signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding in Washington, D.C., Feb. 29, recommitting to a strategy of mutual support, coordination and cooperation. The Memorandum renews and expands similar agreements originally signed in 1997 and renewed in 2001.

“The member states of WSTPC are very pleased that through this Memorandum we can build on the accomplishments of the past decade that have resulted from the excellent relations we have developed with our federal partners,” said Michael Cerletti, newly-elected chairman of WSTPC and Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department.

WSTPC, formed in 1996, is a consortium of 13 western state tourism offices: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Its mission is to support public policies and programs that enable travel and tourism to provide maximum economic and environmental benefits to the states and communities of the West.

Federal agencies that signed the Memorandum are U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service; Department of Commerce,: International Trade Administration; Department of Interior: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service; and Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration. The Small Business Administration also signed.

The agreement pledges to work together to:

  • Develop and distribute information about travel and tourism opportunities in western states;
    Assist travel and tourism organizations in planning, developing, marketing and managing travel and tourism on federal lands;
  • Organize, encourage and participate in community activities that enhance understanding about the use of travel and tourism to diversify the economic base of communities;
  • Organize and assess educational programs that enhance the ability of agencies to manage travel and tourism activities in balance with stewardship responsibilities;
  • Coordinate with private entities and tribal, state and local governments to provide tourism opportunities; and
  • Promote sustainable management practices to protect natural, historic and cultural resources of federal lands.

Since 1997, the agencies and the Western States Tourism Policy Council have collaborated on a number of projects highly beneficial to travel and tourism in the West, including sponsoring seven major joint conferences on tourism and recreation. Another joint conference on relations between gateway communities and federal land agencies is planned Dec. 2-4, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo.