Ruidoso residents weigh in on influx of tourism amid pandemic

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RUIDOSO, N.M. — Texas Spring Break is underway in the Village of Ruidoso. It’s one of the biggest boosts in business for the tourist town, but the extra cash flow comes with some concern following the lifted mask mandate in the Lone Star State.

"We’re already starting to see a big influx of tourists coming into town,” Matt Ingram, the executive director of the Ruidoso Midtown Association, said.

Ingram said there are about 8,000 residents, but around this time of year, the numbers can go up to 50,000 at any given weekend. Most of those tourists are from Texas, which is why the village is nicknamed the “Texas Alps."

There is concern about an increased risk of COVID-19 infections in New Mexico, but Ingram said they are taking precautions.

"Our shops and our businesses here in Ruidoso, for the past 8 months, have been participating in what we are calling the ‘Ruidoso Safe’ campaign. This is a big push for all of our businesses, restaurants to really push that message,” he said.

Hand sanitizer is placed along the sidewalks of Midtown and masks are offered to people without one.

Jennifer Carey, one of the owners of Lost Hiker Brewing Co., said she is ready for more business.

"We have a great local following. We have great local support, but this is a tourist town you know. And that’s what we have to — in order to survive and thrive — we need tourists coming in,” Carey said.

But she said it’s a double-edged sword situation.

"It’s scary. It’s making it more challenging. It’s definitely making it more difficult for us to basically be playing bad cop still and enforce these rules and enforce these mask mandates,” she said.

Ingram said tourists haven’t been giving any trouble so far, but businesses do have a relationship with Ruidoso police in case anyone tries to give the villagers a hard time over wearing a mask.