Florida tourism booms ahead of Memorial Day weekend

MIAMI (AP) — Tourists have returned to Florida in numbers that exceed pre-pandemic levels.

Miami International Airport officials are predicting the “busiest Memorial Day weekend ever,” according to a press release sent Monday.

Passenger traffic at the airport has increased by 17% in the last 30 days, compared to the same period before the pandemic hit in 2020. The airport currently averages 150,000 passengers per day compared to 126,000 per day in 2019, which was a previous record. high.

Similar growth in tourism is being seen across the state of Florida, which never had a statewide mandatory mask mandate and was mostly open for business throughout the pandemic, even when the he state was battered by the delta wave that killed thousands of Floridians last summer. At press conferences, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis frequently notes how open businesses were despite COVID-19 in “the Free State of Florida.”

Figures released earlier this year by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, showed that tourism across the state is now slightly above pre-pandemic numbers. In the first quarter of this year, Florida welcomed 35.9 million visitors, an increase of 1.3% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

The 35.9 million visitors from January to March was a nearly 40% jump from the same quarter last year, according to Visit Florida.

Back in Miami, airport officials expect parking lots to fill to capacity starting Thursday. They note that passengers should plan to be dropped off at the airport by friends or family, a ride-sharing service or a taxi.

Travelers are also suggested to arrive at the airport three hours earlier for domestic flights and three and a half hours earlier for international travel to allow sufficient time to complete the check-in and security check-in process. security.

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