An international conference is bringing 1,600 science- and technology-minded museum professionals to Albuquerque this weekend and, by extension, an estimated $1.6 million to the local economy.
The Association of Science and Technology Centers’ annual conference formally begins today and runs through Tuesday with most sessions at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Tourism officials estimate that attendees – who hail from more than 30 countries – will use 3,448 hotel-room nights and spend about $1.6 million.
But they say the ASTC event is also important because it casts a spotlight on the local science and technology scene – a small but increasingly important tourism driver.
“Is it one of your strongest draws (for leisure travelers)? No,” said Tania Armenta, vice president of marketing, communications and tourism for the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But will that be changing, especially with the Spaceport (in southern New Mexico)? Yes.”
A trio of Albuquerque museums – Explora, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science – is co-hosting the ASTC conference.
National Museum of Nuclear Science & History Director Jim Walther said having multiple science museums in Albuquerque was key in landing the conference, which is typically held in larger metropolitan areas.
“We’re one of the only cities in the United States that has three science museums that are all members of that organization,” he said.
The museums – which worked with ACVB in 2008 to bid on the conference – have since raised a combined $100,000 to support it, according to Alicia Borrego-Pierce, deputy director for the natural history and science museum. The ACVB also contributed $36,000.