ALBUQUERQUE, NM (May 19, 2010) – The Visit Albuquerque (Visit Albuquerque) and the Albuquerque tourism industry recognized the 2010 Visit Albuquerque Ambassadors at its annual luncheon on May 12th.

The annual ambassador recognition honors locals for their commitment to the Albuquerque tourism industry. The 2010 ambassadors helped bring meetings and conventions to the city, which will contribute more than $2.5 million in direct spending. The 15th annual Visit Albuquerque Ambassadors are Dr. Osbjorn Pearson, Jordon Johnson, Charlene Guffey, John Flores, Jim Garcia and Valerie Espinoza.

Dr. Osbjorn Pearson is the local arrangements committee chair at the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA). In April 2010, the AAPA held their annual conference at UNM, and this meeting brought $702,810 in direct spending to Albuquerque. According to Dr. Pearson, UNM was chosen as the location for the annual meeting because of its strong Department of Anthropology and it was a great opportunity to showcase and highlight the department.

Jordon Johnson is a doctoral student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico and has been working closely with the Visit Albuquerque since September 2008 to bring the White Privilege Conference (WPC) to Albuquerque. WPC provides an open forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression. The WPC 2012 Annual Conference will be held in Albuquerque March 28-31, 2012, and will bring in $661,030 in direct spending. Johnson will serve as one of the key members of the local host committee.

Charlene Guffey works with the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) and was key in NCOM’s decision to choose Albuquerque. She has previously hosted small meetings in the city. The 2011 NCOM Annual Convention will take place May 5-15, 2011 and will bring in $663,570 in direct spending.

John Flores, an Albuquerque native, approached Visit Albuquerque back in 2008 to begin working on a bid to host the 2/3/3 Vietnam Veterans Association 2010 Annual Reunion. Working closely with Visit Albuquerque, John assembled an attractive package for their members and made a personal presentation at the 2009 Convention in Portland. Thanks to John’s passion and enthusiasm for Albuquerque, the group voted unanimously to hold their 2010 Reunion in Albuquerque, August 11-15, 2010, which will bring in $54,000 in direct spending.

Valerie Espinoza and Jim Garcia were key in a bid to bring the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT) to Albuquerque. Valerie Espinoza, Santa Fe County Clerk and New Mexico Delegation Director for IACREOT, joined the site selection committee in November to rally for Albuquerque for 2012. With Espinoza’s assistance in Visit Albuquerque’s presentation to the board, Albuquerque won the bid to host the 2012 IACREOT Annual Convention which will be June 26 – July 2, 2012 and will bring in $491,100 in direct spending.

Garcia is the Operations Director for El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina and has been working with the Visit Albuquerque for many years. In January 2010, Garcia made a special trip to Chicago to assist Visit Albuquerque in their bid to host the IACREOT 2012 Annual Convention. Without hesitation, he agreed to provide the entertainment for Visit Albuquerque’s hosted reception for the IACREOT board members by way of a tequila demonstration and presentation on chiles. Garcia’s presence in Chicago contributed to the Visit Albuquerque’s ultimate win to host the 2012 Convention.

“Visit Albuquerque continually partners with locals and organizations across our community to seek out future business for the city. We appreciate the 2010 ambassadors and their predecessors for their tireless efforts in bringing meetings and conventions to Albuquerque,” Dale Lockett, Visit Albuquerque President and CEO.

Travel and tourism is Albuquerque’s second largest private industry. Albuquerque welcomes approximately 3.6 million visitors annually, which generate more than $30.7 million in local taxes each year. Meetings contribute $66 million each year in direct spending. The hospitality industry also employs 23,000 people in Albuquerque.