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Media Contact:

Brenna Moore/Visit Albuquerque

Office: (505) 222-4349



Visit Albuquerque Highlights Recovery Efforts, Future Outlook

for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry at 2021 Annual Meeting


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – (Sept. 17, 2021) – Even though travel is one of the industries most affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Albuquerque remains confident that the city’s ongoing economic recovery will continue to be tied to the performance of the city’s tourism and hospitality industry.

During its Annual Meeting held Wednesday afternoon at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North’s outdoor pavilion, industry leaders, organization partners and community members tuned in to hear Visit Albuquerque leadership discuss the current impact of the pandemic, highlight fiscal year accomplishments and recent recovery efforts, and speak to the future of Albuquerque’s hospitality and tourism industry. It was the first in-person meeting hosted by the organization since December 2019.

Typically one of the city’s largest private industries, tourism and hospitality is a significant contributor to Albuquerque’s economy. Prior to the pandemic, visitors spent more than $2 billion a year in our city and the industry supported nearly 45,000 jobs. At the beginning of 2020, Visit Albuquerque was on pace to achieve record-setting year of growth in lodgers’ tax collections, the hospitality industry was enjoying average hotel occupancy rates that exceeded the U.S. average as well as year-over-year growth in average daily room rates, and the city was looking forward to welcoming several high-profile meetings and sporting events. When the pandemic hit, the hospitality community – locally, nationally and globally – instead focused on the industry’s very survival.

In terms of dollars, since the beginning of March 2020 and through July 2021, the pandemic has resulted in nearly $668 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy, and $4.2 billion in losses for the tourism and hospitality industry in New Mexico, according to Tourism Economics.

“We don’t have to tell you how difficult and unpredictable the last 18 months have been for our industry and our community,” said Visit Albuquerque Vice President Ceela McElveny. “Yet through the unprecedented challenges of the past year and a half, we have also witnessed the incredible resilience of our industry, the perseverance of our people, the wealth of support that exists within our community and optimism for a bright future.”

The organization highlighted top accomplishments over the past fiscal year, which ended June 30. These efforts included:

  • Rebooking 58 groups, which collectively represent more than 42,000 hotel room nights, nearly 25,000 attendees and more than $20 million in estimated direct spend.
  • Generating over 2,000 positive stories about Albuquerque, resulting in more than 3 billion impressions and equating to over $9.5 million in estimated publicity value.
  • Launching a tourism recovery marketing campaign for the City of Albuquerque in collaboration with the Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board, which is expected to generate more than 200 million impressions through the end of the campaign in mid-October.

The program also highlighted the organization’s efforts to form an Albuquerque Tourism Marketing District, which would add a 2% assessment – paid by the visitor – to room rates at more than 150 lodging properties located within the district’s boundaries, providing a new and dedicated funding source to expand promotion of the city as a top destination for leisure travelers, sporting events, meetings and conventions. At least 51% of the lodging properties located within the TMD boundaries must sign a petition agreeing to support creation of the district in order to move forward. Visit Albuquerque began collecting signatures during the summer of 2021 and is close to reaching its goal.

In addition to highlighting the strong demand for leisure travel witnessed over the summer through increased volume at the Albuquerque International Sunport and increases in occupancy and average daily rate at area hotels, Visit Albuquerque leadership reviewed current travel sentiment – which has softened since the summer due to the rise of the delta variant and kids returning to school – and spoke to upcoming initiatives and future opportunities for the industry. These initiatives include:

  • Current bookings of conventions, meetings and sporting events – with assistance from the City of Albuquerque and area hotels and venues – that are estimated to generate more than $20 million in direct spending in the city for FY22 through March 2022.
  • Participation in the New Mexico Tourism Department’s FY22 Cooperative Marketing program, which will turn a $500,000 investment from Visit Albuquerque into a $1.5 million marketing and advertising campaign.
  • The release of a new edition of the Official Albuquerque Visitors Guide.

The meeting program included a forecast of the future, noting that while business spending and travel volume is projected to take some time to recover to pre-pandemic levels, leisure spending and volume is on track to outpace 2019 data by 2023. Full recovery of travel demand remains on the same timeline for 2023, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) is projected to surpass 2019 levels in 2024, according to STR.

Despite the ups and downs that continue due to the pandemic, Americans largely remain excited to travel in the next 12 months. Albuquerque is uniquely positioned to capitalize on pent-up travel demand due to its inherent assets – such as vast landscapes, plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities and authentic cultural experiences – and is well-positioned to capture visitors by fitting in with the latest travel trends. Recent additions to the city, including new hotels, attractions and developments, will appeal to both locals and visitors. Advancements within the filming and space tourism industries, and upcoming landmark anniversaries – such as the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 2022 and the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026 – will continue to draw visitors to Albuquerque in the months and years to come.

During the Annual Meeting, Visit Albuquerque welcomed incoming board of directors chair Heather Arnold, co-owner of Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals. Arnold takes the position over from Cainan Harris, vice president of operations for Heritage Hotels & Resorts and general manager of the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque.

Visit Albuquerque’s business partners in attendance also elected a slate of nominees to fill three open positions on the board of directors. Cainan Harris, vice president of operations for Heritage Hotels & Resorts and general manager of the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, and Scott Cape, area general manager of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque, were elected to positions in the Hospitality/Accommodations category. Tom Garrity, founder and president of The Garrity Group Public Relations, was elected to a position in the General Business category.

Leadership also expressed gratitude and bade farewell to Cecilia Padilla, Visit Albuquerque’s Director of Convention Services, who is departing this week after 26 years with the organization.

The meeting concluded with thoughts of gratitude and optimism, noting that Visit Albuquerque’s work would not be possible without the support of partners, the community and the industry as a whole.

About Visit Albuquerque

Visit Albuquerque is an accredited destination marketing organization (DMO), and a private, not-for-profit organization [501(c)(6)]. The mission of Visit Albuquerque is to stimulate economic growth by marketing Albuquerque as a convention, sports and visitor destination. For more information, go to