Balloon Fiesta to give a boost to state's economy
Posted at: 09/28/2012 4:47 PM
| Updated at: 09/28/2012 6:52 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico business people are hoping for a big economic boost from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that starts a week from Saturday, after a summer of mixed results in the state's tourism industry.
That industry is huge in New Mexico's economy - $5.5 billion in direct spending last year. An economic impact study stated the 2011 Balloon Fiesta brought in more than $90 million in direct spending with the average visitor from outside the metro area spending $194 a day.
All summer long the tourist trade was brisk in Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza, with sidewalk vendors telling us they did better than the dark recession years of 2009 and 2010 and 2011. Tourists told KOB Eyewitness News they chose New Mexico for all kinds of reasons.
"Everything, especially the jewelry," Karen Fowler, a visitor from Baltimore, said. "The Mexican food is excellent, real tacos instead of Taco Bell, real Mexican food. We're coming back, yeah!"
"This is just heaven, from what I've always dreamed about," said Peter Street of Manchester, England. "I'm from a different cultural background, so to come here and see all this, it's just something I can only describe as a dream."
"We were golfing," Andrea Lunney, visiting Albuquerque for the first time from Colorado Springs, said. "We were just doing a little golf vay-cay and I just said well, I've never been to Albuquerque so show me what the things are. My friend said okay, let's go to Old Town, so it's like, okay, we'll start here."
But there were some downers this summer. Sunport destination arrivals were down 3.5 percent from July of last year; hotel and motel receipts were down 10 percent; and visits to national parks and monuments were are also down. State parks visits, however increased 18 percent, and leisure and hospitality employment is up 3.3 percent.
Visits to the state's online vacation guide were up 59 percent this summer, so even if people didn't visit New Mexico, at least they're thinking it!