Balloon Fiesta tourism hits Old Town

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Restaurants are packed, hotels are full –but with the staff shortages many businesses are facing leave some are wondering if they can keep up.

Whether they are grabbing food from a vendor — or buying a glass of wine from a taproom, one thing is clear– tourists are spending money.

“Old town has suffered for a few years even without COVID, so it’s nice to see some revenue being generated down here again,” said Charles Rumbaugh, general manager at Noisy Water Winery.

While most– if not all folks are here for Balloon Fiesta — businesses across town are benefiting.

“Balloon fiesta came and it’s great to see everyone back in town, it’s only day two and it has been insane, yesterday was good. Luckily we have a great staff, we loaded up on our staff so we have plenty of employees working hard,” said Rumbaugh.

But unfortunately– that’s not the case for everyone.

“We are pretty short-staffed, but we are getting through it,” said Tylor Torres, owner of Fat T’s BBQ.

Fat T’s BBQ is one of the newest restaurants in Old Town, after struggling to keep up yesterday they changed their game plan for today.

“First day we had full menu and it was difficult keeping up with demand, now we are offering basic meals, it comes with chips pickles and a sandwich just in and out quick cause we know a lot of restaurants around us are up to a two-hour wait just to sit down, so we are just trying to get people fed,” said Torres.

But it’s not just restaurants getting hit with a wave or tourist — the hospitality industry is in the same boat.

A spokesperson for Heritage Hotels said it’s all hands on deck, with everyone working wherever they can–but even then– they have had to cut back on some services.

Back over in Old Town, Noisy Water Winery stayed busy in both their tap room and their gift shop– serving all the tourists– but management said they hope the crowd doesn’t die down too much after Balloon Fiesta.

“We love the tourist traffic, but a huge goal for us is to be a destination, to draw locals down here on the weekends when it’s not a tourist weekend, to have Old Town be a place for locals to come down to again.”

Trying to keep Old Town lively year round.