Bernalillo County targeting Balloon Fiesta visitors

Posted at: 09/11/2013 6:30 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Just one more night.

It doesn’t seem like too much to ask – and Bernalillo County leaders are hoping visitors to this year’s Balloon Fiesta will agree. That’s why they’ve launched the “Stay one more night” campaign, aimed at keeping visitors around after the balloons are gone and the last breakfast burrito is in their gizzard.

Tourists will see it first when they get off the plane at the Sunport and head down to get their bags. The county’s electronic message board on the escalator system will tell them “We’re more than you think”, and direct their attention to ads promoting things to do after the Fiesta. “We’re more than you think” is the county’s new promo-slogan.

“We want to give them an opportunity to see the community and of course get them to spend some money,” said County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley. “Tourism is a huge industry in New Mexico, and it’s a clean industry and it means a lot of jobs to us.”

A quick check with tourists in Old Town Wednesday afternoon suggests that it might not be a hard sell after all.

“I love the beaches in California and all the weather, but your weather is fabulous,” said Vicki Rhoades, visiting from Fullerton, California. “It’s the spiritual and artistic things you have going on here.”

“I love the people,” said Kathy Jensen, another visitor from Southern California. “The people have been so friendly and nice and helpful and it’s just a beautiful state and we’re just having so much fun!”

About 3/4 of a million people attend the Balloon Fiesta nowadays, most of them from outside the Albuquerque metro area and many of them from other states. Researchers say Fiesta tourists spend an average of about $200 a day, and about one third of them spend at least one extra day in New Mexico. The new campaign is aimed at increasing that.