Organizers anticipate Balloon Fiesta’s economic boost

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Come Saturday — hundreds of hot air balloons will fill the Duke City sky and hundreds of thousands will visit Balloon Fiesta Park to see it all happen and soak in the one-of-a-kind experience.

Organizers know how important the event is for the city and state.

"Walking through the balloons during a balloon roll, when they hit the all burn, it’s just a feeling I can’t really explain. Or when you see one of the special shapes and you just try to figure out how that could possibly have been created, it’s just something that we tell people from around the country and around the world what it’s like, but until they actually come and see it, they just don’t understand,” said Paul Smith, executive director of Balloon Fiesta.

For organizers, there’s a lot riding on this event.

"We really do understand the impact of our decisions and our role in the community as a business and an event,” said Smith.

This event alone brings in millions of dollars for the economy.

“Every year, we have about $180 million of economic impact for the city and neighboring areas,” Smith said.

The latest economic study from 2019 shows more than $100 million in direct impact and about $80 million worth of indirect impact.

“When Balloon Fiesta comes to town, we have a lot of out-of-town guests. The hotels are the first and foremost impacted by that,” said Smith.

Then there’s car rentals, shopping and, of course, restaurants.

“A lot of our restaurants are local and they’ve had a hard time because of the COVID and the lockdowns and just the last 18 months. So we’re looking forward to getting people back into their restaurants,” Smith said.

After a year of being grounded due to COVID-19, the goal is lifting off and looking forward.

"We have worked very hard through the last, well since the end of the 2019 event, to get to where we are today through easy decisions, hard decisions, and just some very trying times and we thank everybody for standing with us,” said Matt Guthrie, president of the Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors.