|By Rosalie Rayburn, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 20, 2004 - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Bob Gansfuss, chairman of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors, says he is confident the bureau would win a bidding contest to market Albuquerque as a convention destination.
And if the unexpected happened and the bureau lost the contract it has held exclusively since 1980, it would have no more reason to exist, Gansfuss told the Journal in an interview.
The Albuquerque City Council tonight is scheduled to discuss whether other bidders are available for the contract and, if not, possibly vote to return the contract to the bureau without going through the full bid process.
Gansfuss said his goal, and that of the board, is to "enhance and strengthen the bureau's position as the pre-eminent marketing organization for the city of Albuquerque."
Under Gansfuss, the board has lobbied to persuade the Albuquerque City Council to repeal its decision last year to open the marketing contract up to bidding.
The contract, funded by the city through the lodgers tax paid by hotels, is worth about $3.7 million annually. The rest of the bureau's funding, about $1.5 million, comes from cash and in-kind contributions and dues from its 975 members.
"Without the contract, we wouldn't exist anymore," said Gansfuss, general manager of the Doubletree hotel in Downtown and the Wyndham Airport Albuquerque Hotel.
Up to now, the city has automatically renewed the contract. But last year, the city council voted to invite bids for the contract when it expires in March 2005.
The bureau's board is concerned but not alarmed by the prospect, Gansfuss said.
"It's a big issue, but we're very comfortable and confident we can continue the contract with the city," he said.
During the past two years, Albuquerque has performed better than other Southwest destinations, according to some data. Lodgers tax figures show the number of hotel rooms sold has increased by 6 percent in 2004 compared with 2003, even with the addition of several new hotels, said Gansfuss, who became bureau chairman in May.
A proposed Downtown arena would be an added selling point, he said.
Despite his confidence about the bidding, Gansfuss said bureau staff and board members asked City Councilor Tina Cummins for help.
Cummins, who was the only councilor last year to vote against opening up the contract to bids, has asked the council to change its mind.
The council in turn drafted a proposal to request information about other bidders, to be presented tonight. If research has found a lack of other bidders, the contract could be awarded to the bureau without going through the full bid process.
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