PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For the first time since the pandemic struck the world, family members and friends separated by an international travel ban were finally able to reunite.
Action News was at the Philadelphia International Airport on Monday as Gregor Campbell hugged his mother after arriving from London.
Mehrmaz Campbell hadn't seen her son in well over a year.
"He's been wanting to come over for a long time since I think it was March 2020. It's just so nice to have him here," said Campbell,
"I feel choked up about it. I get to see my mom again, which is always lovely. And it was relatively pain-free for the first flight back," said Gregor.
The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the U.S., but the travel bans grounded tourists, thwarted business travelers and often separated families.
Airlines are now preparing for a surge in travel. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21% this month over last month.
Lois Bell arrived from Essex, England, and was greeted by a dear friend from Dover, Delaware.
Bell was headed to visit her 88-year-old aunt whom she had not seen since the pandemic hit.
"I hope I don't hurt her because I'm gonna hold her so tight," said Bell.
Analysts say the restrictions being lifted will be a much-needed shot in the arm for the tourism industry, which took a tremendous financial hit.
"You gotta remember the overseas traveler represented about $150 billion worth of spending in this country," said tourism expert Matthew Jones.
"Now is the time to book Europe and now is the time to book a cruise cause they are the things that have availability for the future. Caribbean or Mexico, there's not much space available on resorts or flights," added Maureen Ward of Premier Travel.
The U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the shots approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That's a relief for many in Canada, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.