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Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel media company and guidebook publisher, released its annual “Best in the U.S. Top Ten” list today, naming Southern New Mexico No. 9 out of all travel destinations in the country for 2016.

 The list debuted in 2010 and this is the first time Southern New Mexico scored one of the coveted spots in the top ten. It also marks the second time New Mexico has been included, as the Four Corners region was on the 2012 list. According to Lonely Planet, “Best in the U.S. is a handpicked list selected and ranked by U.S.-based editors and travel writers” and spotlights  “the top 10 most exciting, intriguing and up-and-coming U.S. destinations worth visiting in the year ahead.” Editors at the company said the destinations on the list are “poised to shine in the year ahead – places often-overlooked, hidden gems and household names with new reasons to visit in 2016.”

“This is our favorite campaign of the year,” said Natalie Nicholson, Lonely Planet’s United States public relations manager. “We chose Southern New Mexico for a number of reasons and features which will be highlighted in our editorial, including the newly established Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Native American archaeological sites, White Sands National Monument, its volcanic fields, places where WWII bombers and Apollo astronauts trained and more.”

The New Mexico Tourism Department worked with Lonely Planet to provide travel suggestions and images of Southern New Mexico to use in promoting the list on the company’s newly redesigned website, LonelyPlanet.com, in a free e-book available for download from the website and in an extensive feature in the second issue of the new United States magazine, Lonely Planet, available on newsstands in March. Lonely Planet will also promote the list through its social media channels, which have a combined following of more than 8.5 million.

“New Mexico is getting some well-deserved recognition from Lonely Planet this year,” said Rebecca Latham, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Tourism Department. “Just a few short months ago, they named New Mexico among the top value destinations in the entire world to visit in 2016, making it the only U.S. destination to make the prestigious list. I’m thrilled that New Mexico True’s message of authentic experiences, unique culture, outdoor adventure and incredible cuisine is resonating with the audiences we’re targeting, and these rankings help us spread that message even more.”