International travel, events begin to pick up in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Slowly but surely, the city and the region are beginning to open up, with conventions and leisure travel picking up.

At the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 2,500 high school female athletes, their parents, coaches, and others were in town for the 2021 Northeast Qualifier volleyball tournament.

"We're really excited to be able to play and show our skills to recruiters as well," said Savannah Gonzales of Princeton, New Jersey.

"To play like top-level volleyball with my teammates, I think it's just going to be a fun experience," said Shakthi Sreenivas of Princeton.

While the convention is closed to the public due to COVID restrictions, this will be the first event held there since the pandemic.

Although only 8,000 people are expected over three weeks instead of the usual 25,000, officials say it's a step in the right direction.

"We expect that the leisure traveler is gonna lead the way during the recovery because businesses aren't there yet," said Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.

In addition to the nice weather conditions, the city was bustling with tourists.

"It's fantastic to be able to travel again, we're from Atlanta, Georgia so this is our first time we came to visit our niece," said Carlos Garcia.

Camerson Elsea of Birmingham, Alabama, said, "It's been awesome, the plane tickets were $35, so you can't beat that."

At the Philadelphia International Airport, it was filled as travelers began to take to the skies again.

"Jamaica is one of the most popular spots, easy to get to, especially here from Philly. You can fly non-stop," said Ashley Kooker of Sandals & Beaches Resorts.

But so far, travels to Europe are minuscule.

"We have to wait for the European government, the country to open up, and right now, Iceland is open for U.S. travel with the vaccine as well as Morocco is open," said Maureen Rennie of Premier Travel.

But in another sign that things are moving forward: American Airlines will resume flights to London and Dublin beginning Saturday out of Philadelphia.

They will be the first transatlantic service out of the Philadelphia International Airport since last year.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.