ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is investing more than a million dollars to boost the city’s tourism efforts. The gateway into some of the most popular downtown tourist spots has become an eyesore and business owners want to know what the city is going to do about it.
Most businesses in the area depend on revenue from tourism and they worry the look of the area will deter potential visitors. Denise Dubey has worked in Old Town for nearly 20 years. “This is our pride and joy,” Dubey says. But she says trash in the area, specifically the I-40 and Rio Grande interchange has started to pile up. “It’s probably the worst it’s ever been,” Dubey says.
She says many Old Town businesses and restaurants are still recovering from the pandemic, and depend on tourism revenue. Mayor Tim Keller announced the city would be putting $1.5 million toward tourism marketing and advertising, to help put Albuquerque on the map as a vacation destination.
However, Dubey worries all the trash might deter potential visitors. “They don’t clean up the trash and it is the main entrance for all tourism going into Old Town, the BioPark, the zoo, hotels, so it gives the first impression of an untidy and unkempt city,” Dubey says.
On the other side of the interstate, Range Cafe Manager Brandon Bases says he’s frustrated not only with the trash but the growing homeless camp near the restaurant. “We’re still pretty busy thankfully, we still get people who pass through all the time and they don’t mention it but as soon as in this parking lot, you can see it when you get out of your car so absolutely I agree it probably stops the average person from stopping in,” Bases says.
They want to see more done, to bring the area up to its full potential. “It’s the historical district and its very important that we are able to showcase how great our community and our city is and I don’t think that is being portrayed very well over here,” Bases says.
The city has an ongoing agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to clean the area. NMDOT says their crews go out and clean about every three months. The city says they clean the area weekly. Since the start of the year, the city has received more than 100 calls to 311 about the litter in the area.