ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is less than 24-hours away, and visitors from all over the country are descending on the city. For the tourist industry, it’s the end of a long two-year wait. Tons of visitors excited for the kick-off of Balloon Fiesta are shopping, eating, and taking in all of the culture; A welcome sight for the city.

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Tourists from Alabama, Kansas and Illinois are checking off the Balloon Fiesta from their bucket list. “I’ve just heard it’s something you need to see before you die,” said Lisa Marshall, a visitor from Alabama.

Until the kick-off of the 49th annual fiesta, they’re exploring the city, hitting tourist hot spots like the tram and Old Town Plaza, eating and shopping. “We bought some spices, green chile, peanut brittle, and green chile stew,” said Marshall.

It’s that kind of shopping that Tania Armenta, the president and CEO of Visit Albuquerque says will give our economy a much-needed boost. “Our city and state’s economic recovery after the pandemic is directly tied to the travel and tourism performance,” said Armenta.

Armenta says in 2019, the Balloon Fiesta brought in more than $186-million to the state. There’s no way to predict how this year will match up, but she says so far it’s looking up. “Right now our hotels, our tour companies, those who do balloon rides, are all indicating that they have strong reservations,” said Armenta.

Live music and performances on the Plaza will start on Saturday from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. KRQE News 13 will be live out at the Balloon Fiesta all week starting Saturday morning.