ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Spring break for many New Mexico school districts is a little more than a week away. As restrictions ease, many families are taking their first vacation in a year. With COVID-19 numbers improving and vaccines becoming more widely available, families said they are getting comfortable with traveling again even if it is just in the state.
The Ortsman Butler family is ready to get out of the house. “We have been hunkered down since the pandemic hit,” Sandra Ortsman said.
The family hasn’t been on vacation in more than a year and while they don’t usually go on spring break, they decided to this year. “I think we are just so desperate to go on vacation,” Ortsman said. “It seems like a low-risk activity.”
Sandra, her husband, and her kids are heading to Taos to ski later this month. “I am excited to travel,” one of Sandra’s kids said. “I am excited to watch TV in the car.”
Ski New Mexico said it’s likely more families will spend their break in the state this year. “I have a feeling we are going to see more New Mexico people at our ski areas over spring break,” Executive Director George Brooks said.
Brooks said they have seen a recent uptick in ticket sales and about two-thirds of their normal spring break crowds. “That is well within our numbers,” Brooks said. “We have limits obviously placed on us by the state, but those are still within the limits of what we would be able to have and make it very COVID safe.”
The New Mexico Tourism Department said hotel occupancy is tracking slightly higher than this time last year. Right now, hotels are at around 45% occupancy. By the end of March of last year, after the pandemic hit, occupancy was barely 40%. The average in March 2019 was 72%. “Spring break is an opportunity to support local restaurants and shops,” Cody Johnson with the Tourism Department said. “It is a great thing and a way for people to give back to the business community because hospitality and tourism have made a lot of sacrifices this year.”
Sandra said her family vacation can’t come soon enough. “We are very excited to have fun and get out of dodge,” Sandra said.
Ski New Mexico is encouraging people to check ski resorts’ websites before heading there as rules vary depending on which county you are in. The Tourism Department is reminding people to continue to be cautious as restrictions ease.