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Industry Insider

September 2023

As we head into the fall season, we’re looking forward to cooler temperatures, spicier food and countless reasons to travel to Albuquerque. We’re gearing up for Balloon Fiesta and preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to our city for this world-renowned event. We wish everyone a successful Fiesta and a busy fall travel season.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began this month. In Albuquerque, we’re proud of our multicultural heritage and the rich diversity of our community. This month, we’re eager to celebrate the Hispanic culture that makes this city so unique. 

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Annual Meeting tomorrow, Sept. 27, where you’ll hear about our accomplishments during the past year and learn about our exciting plans for the future. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet many of the recipients of our new Tourism Grant Program (see story below). As a reminder, parking is free in the Convention Center parking garage.

Thank you for being a Visit Albuquerque Partner.


Review Your Listing for the 2024 Visitors Guide

Production of the 2024 Official Albuquerque Visitors Guide is underway! The guide is a vital resource for travelers, highlighting where to stay, eat, shop and enjoy all that our city has to offer. We will distribute 200,000 copies of the publication beginning in January 2024. 

Partners in certain categories – such as shopping, dining and attractions – need to verify your listing in the Visitors Guide. Earlier this month, the primary contact person at your business received an email with a customized link to update and confirm listing information. If you have questions, please contact Janice Pomeroy at 505-222-4312 or

For businesses that want an elevated presence in the Visitors Guide, we are also offering a variety of paid advertising opportunities. We are working with sales professional Lisa Saturday, who will be contacting many of our Partners to discuss display advertising. If you’d like to contact Lisa, you can reach her at or 303-867-8301.


2023 Visitors Guide Cover Open

18 Recipients Receive Grants in Inaugural Visit Albuquerque Tourism Grant Program

Earlier this month, Visit Albuquerque announced the recipients of the 2023 Tourism Grant Program. A total of 72 applications were submitted, collectively requesting over $1.8 million in funding. Among a pool of exceptional applications, 18 projects were selected for their potential to help grow a more diverse and thriving tourism economy. A total of $429,000 will be awarded to the 18 grant recipients to support their projects. 

Two levels of grant funding were available for the 2023 grant cycle: the Incubator level provides up to $10,000 for project implementation and the Innovator level provides up to $50,000 for project implementation (this level requires a match). The awarded projects are:

An illustrated image of Albuquerque with Tourism Grant Program logo

Incubator Level Grantees:

  • Artemis Productions - $10,000 for enhancement of Albuquerque’s Lowrider Fest 
  • DowntownABQ MainStreet and Arts & Cultural District - $10,000 for enhanced elements at Downtown Growers’ Market and ABQ Artwalk
  • Flyby Provisions - $10,000 for enhanced Downtown pop-up events 
  • Homewise - $5,000 for historic walking tour and Barelas history project
  • Lapis Room - $10,000 for event offerings elevating visual, performing and culinary artists of New Mexico
  • New Nuevo - $10,000 for experiential tourism offerings
  • Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals - $10,000 for student and youth educational tour program

Innovator Level Grantees:

  • Adelante Development Center - $50,000 for durable medical equipment rental services to promote accessible tourism
  • Big Jim Farms - $50,000 for expansion projects and new holiday programming 
  • Day of the Tread - $10,000 for inaugural “Bone Shaker” gravel grinder event 
  • Electric Playhouse - $50,000 for an immersive, digital experience introducing visitors to quintessential Albuquerque activities
  • Friends of the Orphan Signs - $25,000 for historic sign preservation and artist opportunities
  • Gathering of Nations - $25,000 for enhancements to existing signature event 
  • Gujrati Samaj of New Mexico - $25,000 for expansion of existing events 
  • Heritage Hotels & Resorts - $31,000 for signage highlighting visitor experiences in the Sawmill District, including museums 
  • Mariachi Spectacular - $25,000 for enhancements to existing signature event 
  • National Institute of Flamenco - $50,000 ($25,000 for enhancements to existing signature event and $25,000 for expansion of year-round flamenco performances)
  • New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association - $23,000 for interactive custom wine experiences

The program is made possible due to revenue generated by the Albuquerque Tourism Marketing District (ATMD), a coalition of approximately 150 local lodging properties that agreed to an assessment for guests on overnight stays. Visit Albuquerque uses the assessed dollars to expand marketing of the city as a destination and enhance the visitor experience.

Visit Albuquerque Promotes the City at Labor Day Lift Off

A team from Visit Albuquerque traveled to Colorado Springs earlier this month to attend Labor Day Lift Off, an annual ballooning event that attracts about 75 hot air balloons. We staffed an exhibit booth on the launch field where we handed out Albuquerque Visitors Guides and samples of El Pinto green and red chile, promoted the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and encouraged people to travel to Albuquerque for culture, outdoor recreation, events and attractions. While in Colorado Springs, we also hosted a dinner where meeting planners and travel writers were able to sample New Mexican cuisine and watch a flamenco performance. Many of the meeting planners also joined us for flights in Visit Albuquerque’s “Red or Green” hot air balloon, piloted by Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Ride Co. Our thanks to the local Partners who helped with the event: Rainbow Ryders, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the National Institute of Flamenco, along with El Pinto RestaurantNoisy Water WineryMarble Brewery, Rio Bravo Brewing Company and Steel Bender Brewyard.


Two Visit Albuquerque employees work a booth at Labor Day Liftoff with a crowd of people in the backgroundThe Visit Albuquerque mobile visitors center in the foreground with the Visit Albuquerque balloon in the background at Labor Day Liftoff

Visit Albuquerque Attends the New Mexico State Fair

Visitor Services Manager Liz Burnam and Visit Albuquerque volunteers attended the New Mexico State Fair on Sept. 14 during New Mexico True and Gathering of Counties Day. They passed out copies of Visit Albuquerque’s Visitors Guide and the New Mexico True Adventure Guide along with activity books with crayons and discovery maps.

Two Visit Albuquerque volunteers talk to someone at the 2023 New Mexico State Fair

Sales Team Attends Connect Marketplace

Visit Albuquerque’s sales team had a significant presence at Connect Marketplace Aug. 22-24 in Minneapolis this year with Vice President of Sales, Services and Sports Scott Craighead; Associate Director of Sales Larry Atchison; Senior National Sales Manager Tabitha Stallworth and Senior Sports Development Manager Angela Gandy in attendance. Larry, Tabitha and Angela conducted one-on-one appointments with clients representing the specialty, association and sports markets.

The Visit Albuquerque team stands in front of the Visit Albuquerque booth at Connect Marketplace

Visit Albuquerque had a booth on the Connect trade show floor where clients could learn more about Albuquerque and interact with tinsmith Jason Younis y Delgado as he demonstrated the New Mexican craft of punched tin. In addition, Visit Albuquerque hosted a tri-city reception with sales teams from Destination Madison and Go Providence, where meeting planners were able to spend additional one-on-one time with the sales team.

Visit Albuquerque was joined by Mark Mares, Corporate Sales Manager with Heritage Hotels & Resorts, and Craig Barkdull, Director of Sales and Marketing with the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Professional Fraternity Association’s Annual Conference Comes to Albuquerque

In early September, the Visit Albuquerque sales team hosted the Professional Fraternity Association, which comprised more than 100 senior meeting planners and executives of professional fraternity associations from across the country. 

Over 40 people participated in a familiarization tour, which included balloon rides by Rainbow Ryders, a trip on the Sandia Tram, lunch at Church Street Café and shopping at Old Town.

The attendees also joined Visit Albuquerque and several hotel partners at El Pinto for a host city reception.

Attendees of the PFA conference FAM inside a hot air balloon basket

Photo Credit: Winstonfoto

PFA conference attendees attend a dinner at El Pinto

Submit Nominations for the New Mexico Hospitality Association’s TopHAT Awards

The New Mexico Hospitality Association is accepting nominations for its 2023 TopHAT (Hospitality and Tourism) Awards. The TopHAT Awards recognize outstanding people, experiences and lodging properties that go above and beyond in the hospitality and tourism industry. Businesses do not need to be an NMHA member to apply. Some of this year’s categories include:

  • Outstanding Event
  • Front-of-House Food & Beverage Employee of the Year
  • Front-of-House Hospitality Employee of the Year
  • Back-of-House Food & Beverage Employee of the Year
  • Back-of-House Hospitality Employee of the Year
  • Hospitality Professional of the Year
  • Full Service Hotel of the Year
  • Limited Service Hotel of the Year

Nominations are due by Sept. 29. For more information on the criteria for each award, click here, and to submit your nominations, click here.


Nonstop Flight to Long Beach Begins

Southwest Airlines began operating a direct flight from the Albuquerque International Sunport to Long Beach, California, on Sept. 5. Long Beach is the 16th destination served by Southwest at the Sunport, and the airline averages 33 daily departures.

Fire trucks spray a salute to the first Southwest nonstop flight to Long Beach, California

Tourism Generates $7.6 Billion in 2022 in New Mexico

More than 40 million visitors made trips to New Mexico last year, generating $7.6 billion in spending, according to research performed by Longwoods International for the New Mexico Tourism Department. Leisure travel appears to have recovered from the pandemic, with more leisure travel in 2022 than in 2019. Business travel has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, but is up from 2021.

Upcoming Meetings and Sports Events

In October 2023, more than 4,700 people will participate in meetings and sports events booked and supported by Visit Albuquerque. These events will generate an estimated $3.4 million in direct spend and include:


Group Name

Est. Attendance

Meeting Location

Est. Direct Spending

Oct. 4-6

CCA Global Partners
Carpet One Fall Advisory


Hotel Andaluz - Curio Collection by Hilton


Oct. 9-10

W. W. Grainger - New Mexico


The Clyde Hotel


Oct. 11-12

Society of Air Force Nurses
Biennial Convention


Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown


Oct. 17-21

National Indian Education Association
Annual Conference


Albuquerque Convention Center


Oct. 18-21

International Veterinary Acupuncture Society
October Certification Course


Hotel Andaluz - Curio Collection by Hilton


Oct. 19-21

National Education Association New Mexico
Joint Board & Council Meetings


Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque


Oct. 20-21

University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Annual Women’s Health Conference


Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North


Oct. 28-29

Albuquerque Baseball Academy
Five Tool Finale


Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Sports Complex


Oct. 28

New Mexico Games Arm Wrestling


Local Facility


Oct. 31-Nov. 4

American Orff-Schulwerk Association Annual Conference


Albuquerque Convention Center


Please help welcome these visitors and groups to Albuquerque!