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Any destination can benefit from promoting its local cuisine with a growing number of tourists planning trips around their tastebuds. New Mexico will have to actively advertise its distinctive flavors to compete with a diverse set of culinary destinations.

Boosters of New Mexico’s tourism industry are increasingly focusing on the state’s kitchens and restaurants as attractions that’ll draw more visitors and their dollars to the state.

Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson estimates that New Mexico’s spending to promote culinary tourism will reach $100,000 during the current fiscal year, the Albuquerque Journal reported online Sunday.

“It’s something we don’t want to (just) let happen, it’s something we want to take more of a leadership and ownership role in,” Jacobson said.

With its diverse and distinctive edible offerings, Jacobson said New Mexico is well-positioned to excel among the growing number of food-conscious travelers.

More About Food Tourism

“I think it’s an area where we actually have a competitive advantage and a right to succeed,” Jacobson said.

And while culinary tourism is a hot trend generally, the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau says an emphasis on local food bolsters the bureau’s overarching marketing goal of showing potential visitors that the city is one of a kind.

Chili plays a big role in New Mexico cuisine, and it both has widespread appeal and differentiates New Mexico, Jacobson said.

But highlighting New Mexico’s edible assets doesn’t mean only emphasizing traditional, chili-laden food.

When the visitors bureau hosted a group of food journalists recently, the itinerary included a gathering of food trucks, a tour of microbreweries, trips to farms and a primer on Native American food.

Jane Butel, cookbook author and owner of a Corrales cooking school, said out-of-towners made up most of her recent cooking class.

“The word is out about the New Mexican taste,” she said. “Especially anybody who knows anything about food.”

Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Tags: food and drink, new mexico

Photo Credit: Candy Skulls are created by Calavera King to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. VisitABQ / Flickr