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Santa Fe still tourist destination amid coronavirus concerns

Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal
Thousands of shoppers attend the Santa Fe Indian Market in August. Officials from Tourism Santa Fe said the city remains a tourist destination despite fears over the COVID-19 virus.

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe has remained a tourist destination despite fears over the new virus outbreak, tourism officials said.

Tourism Santa Fe, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, acknowledged the local tourism industry still could be affected if coronavirus, which causes respiratory illness, continues to spread in the United States, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Monday.

“I don’t think we really know yet what’s going to happen,” said Randy Randall, the bureau’s executive director. “It’s fortunate, obviously, that we have not had outbreak in New Mexico.”

New Mexico has no confirmed cases of the virus that originated in China and causes the disease known as COVID-19.

“We haven’t seen cancellations at this point, and clearly right now international travel, cruise lines, are the most impacted areas,” Randall said.

It’s hard to say what effect the disease will have on domestic travel, said Cody Johnson, a spokesman for the New Mexico Tourism Department.

“We are in daily contact with the New Mexico Department of Health, which has been coordinating response in our state related to the COVID-19 since January, and we are monitoring daily developments as they happen,” Johnson said.

City Finance Committee members also are monitoring gross receipts taxes in multiple tourism-related industries and discussing the volatility of markets because of the virus.

“It’s an early indicator. … We continue to monitor, and we’ll have to make adjustments accordingly,” finance director Mary McCoy said.

Randall said the state and cities are coordinating efforts.

“If Santa Fe can remain healthy and the state of New Mexico can remain healthy through good hygiene and through people being very careful, Santa Fe becomes a great alternative for pent-up travel when they can’t travel internationally or take their cruise,” he said.

The virus had infected at least 92,000 people around the world as of Tuesday.