PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the first time in nearly two years, vaccinated tourists from overseas are arriving at Philadelphia International Airport now that the U.S. has lifted COVID travel restrictions. The lifting of restrictions means tourism is expected to get a big boost and visitors can again fly here to see loved ones.
A hug was years in the making for a British man and his American fiancée. Isaac La Vedrine landed at Philly International Monday from London.READ MORE: Caught On Camera: Fire Rips Through Vacant Bar In Penns Grove, New Jersey
“Trying not to cry right now. It’s been 3.5 years, so it’s been a while,” he said.
“I’m just excited to get home and relax and be together,” Currie Poore said.
“It’s a long time so very excited,” said Chander Kumar, who is visiting from Toronto.
A couple from Toronto, Canada arrived at Philadelphia International Monday, their first trip back to the city in 20 months. They’re here to see their daughter and grandchildren who live here.
“Today’s my birthday, too, so that will be my best gift, to see my grandchildren today,” Kumar said.
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Sam Dean, 32, of Horsham, is one of dozens of people waiting for a flight to arrive at Philly International from London to hug a loved one she hasn’t seen in years because of Covid restrictions @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/VL82yuKHDv
— Matt Petrillo (@MattPetrillo) November 8, 2021
While Americans traveling abroad had already been allowed to come back, vaccinated international tourists are now allowed to travel into the U.S. for the first time in 20 months.
“We’re definitely expecting to see more people coming in. Our Passengers Assistance Team that works in international arrivals is prepared to welcome people as they come off of their flights,” said Heather Redfern with the airport.
The influx will help the local economy.
Overseas visitors are expected to account for almost a million hotel room nights in the Delaware Valley in 2022. That’s nearly double from the previous year, according to the Philadelphia Convention
& Visitors Bureau.
Among them is Michael Jankowski, from Toronto, who’s in Philadelphia for a week-long training seminar for work.
“It’s nice that we’re able to see our colleagues once again and do this, especially come into the states,” he said.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Weather: Sunday System Brings First Chance Of Snowflakes For Parts Of Region
Officials say as the airport sees more travelers, the stores and restaurants inside will need to hire more workers.