The 42nd annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is less than a week away, so pilots, crews and tourists will soon start pouring into the city.
Beyond the spectacle and the good time, that means an economic boom for the city.
"When a city gets a branded with such a positive event, that's good for business," said Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, it's really good for business.
"It's actually about $120 million in direct revenue spending, about $18 million plus in taxes generated, 1,600 jobs," added Helen Collins of HBC Event Services, which helps book travel for groups. "It's a huge event for the city."
Attendance tops 700,000 for the nine days of mass ascensions, competitions, nighttime glows and other events.
More than half of the people who walk through the gates are from outside the Albuquerque area with a lot of them coming from out of state.
A survey showed those out-of-towners are spending almost five days here on average while spending close to $200 a day.
"When people come to the city as a tourist, they spend money, and they spend money at all kinds of places," Cole said.
While they spend a lot on Main Street at Balloon Fiesta Park, they also have to eat when they're not watching balloons. Restaurants are bustling for those nine days, and all those visitors are shopping, going to the casinos and sightseeing, too.
They also need a place to sleep. Balloon Fiesta is like Albuquerque's Super Bowl week for hotels.
Collins said this year more than 50 hotels have reservations from people outside of New Mexico.
"I think it's been one of the main reasons for hotels expanding into the area as far as the number of rooms we currently have," she added.
Collins said those making last-minute plans will find rooms still available although choices will be very limited.
But Balloon Fiesta is about a lot more than money. It helps put the city on the map making it an international destination for a couple weeks out of the year.
"It just simply is an event that brings Albuquerque together," Cole continued. "That brings New Mexico together, and it brings the world together."
Balloon Fiesta takes flight with the first mass ascension scheduled next Saturday morning, and it continues through the following week to Sunday Oct. 13.
KRQE News 13 will broadcast live and stream online every morning from 7-9 a.m. sharing all the excitement from the ground and the air.
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