ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - (May 12, 2016) - The Visit Albuquerque (Visit Albuquerque) hosted its Annual Meeting today, celebrating the past 35 years of marketing Albuquerque as a visitor and convention destination and looking into the future with the city's largest gathering of tourism industry professionals.

Visit Albuquerque President & CEO Tania Armenta and outgoing Visit Albuquerque Board Chair Laura Kesselman presented on a variety of organizational updates and accomplishments, noting that after 35 years as an organization, 2016 marks the beginning of a new chapter for Visit Albuquerque. Highlights included announcing new board leadership and structure, new staff leadership and the announcement of Visit Albuquerque's transition to a new name for the organization: Visit Albuquerque.

"The new name is symbolic of not only a new chapter for the organization, but it is also in keeping with a national trend among destination marketing organizations," said Tania Armenta, President & CEO of Visit Albuquerque. "We're excited to make the shift to a new name because it is action-oriented and makes it easier for others to understand our purpose as the official visitor and convention marketing organization for the City of Albuquerque."

Denver, Houston, Orlando, Seattle and Tucson are just a few examples out of the more than the 80 organizations that conduct business as "Visit (city name)."

Also revealed at the meeting was Visit Albuquerque's Viewfinder-an interactive apparatus that will showcase Albuquerque's best assets in the form of 360-degree video, providing an immersive experience of the city to prospective visitors, from wherever they may be. The viewfinder will be set up in strategic locations across the country-malls, airports and plazas in targeted cities like Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego and Chicago-and will also have the capability to travel with the convention sales team to trade shows and sales missions. Visit Albuquerque is the first destination in the country to launch this viewfinder initiative.

The Annual Meeting highlighted the travel and tourism industry in Albuquerque and its role as a vital economic engine for the city. As one of the largest private industries in the city, the tourism industry in Albuquerque:
Brings approximately 6.2 million visitors to the city each year
Generates more than $2 billion annually
Produces over $69 million in local taxes annually
Supports approximately 40,000 jobs in Bernalillo County alone and was one of the few industries that experienced job growth through the recession
Accounts for over 10% of gross receipts tax (GRT)

In addition to highlighting these statistics, Visit Albuquerque's Annual Meeting touted the increase in the city's lodgers tax revenue, which reached a recent high of over $11 million in FY15-approximately only $100,000 shy of the pre-recession peak, with FY16 on track to beat it-and the fact that area hotels have seen consistent increases in occupancy and average daily rate. The presenters also noted that the Albuquerque Sunport has now seen six straight months of year-to-year gains, and shared Visit Albuquerque's recent bookings for meetings and conventions, as well as highlights of upcoming conventions.

During the Annual Meeting, Visit Albuquerque announced a new board structure and voted on new board leadership and members. The elected board of directors for FY17 includes: Damen Kompanowski, Sheraton Uptown Hotel (new board chair); Laura Kesselman, Kesselman-Jones, Inc. (past board chair); Tracie Jernigan, Crowne Plaza Hotel; Rebecca Plutino, Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn; James Perricone, Hyatt Regency Hotel; Cynthia Stanley, Marriott Pyramid North; John O'Hara, Hotel Andaluz (Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association representative); Heather Arnold, Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals, Inc.; James Gay, New Mexico Sports & Wellness; Jesse Herron, Albuquerque Tour