ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As hundreds of thousands of tourists and residents make it out to Balloon Fiesta, Visit ABQ and the state’s tourism department want them to see all of Albuquerque.

“Our city has so much great experiences to offer, we wanted to make sure people are supporting businesses across the city during their time in Balloon Fiesta,” said Rachel Howard, Director of Marketing for VISIT ABQ, the not-for-profit contracted by the City of Albuquerque to, ‘stimulate economic growth by marketing Albuquerque as a convention, sports and visitor destination.’

They have created an ABQ passport, a free, digital list of nearly 200 businesses across the city. “So, they’re all businesses that cater to visitors, also residents, things to do, attractions, tours, restaurants, shopping businesses,” said Howard. Some neighborhoods like Old Town and Downtown are well represented on the map, but it’s a different story for the International District and South Valley.


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“The South Valley’s a part of Albuquerque as well. Where’s all the other restaurants down here represented? You go on the map and there’s no pings, anything down here,” said Samuel Lujan, the brother of the owner of El Paisa. He’s helped his family run the restaurant in the South Valley for 27 years and would like to see more businesses in his area included in the digital passport.

“There’s a lot of authentic foods down here, a lot of taste. A lot of the other stuff is represented but nothing down here ever,” said Lujan. Most on the list are local businesses, but there are also chains like Jason’s Deli, Fuddruckers, and Fogo De Chao.

That’s because all the businesses included are the ones that pay to support the not-for-profit’s mission and become ‘Visit ABQ partners.’ According to Visit ABQ, they have more than 700 tourism and hospitality partners, nearly 200 of which are included in the ABQ Passport.

“Visit ABQ partners were the ones included so we did try to include a diverse range of businesses and in different areas. Like I said, businesses are all in the hospitality tourism industry, so, just the disbursement of some of those businesses are a little bit different,” said Howard.

“The majority of included businesses are located in and around Albuquerque’s entertainment districts – Old Town, Downtown, University/Nob Hill – particularly as some Albuquerque neighborhoods are zoned to be residential as opposed to commercial and therefore do not contain as many tourism and hospitality businesses as the city’s entertainment districts. We hope that people will use the Passport to find a new gem in the city or rediscover an old favorite,” said a Visit ABQ spokesperson in part, in an email to KRQE.

Visit ABQ is also having a contest with the ABQ Passport. People who check-in to five different businesses in five different neighborhoods will be entered to win a prize.

Visit ABQ said they’ve had about 100 people sign up for the passport. People can sign up here. Businesses who want to become Visit ABQ partners can look into it here.