Memorial Day: Expect crowded airports, packed Florida hotels

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MIAMI (AP) — Expect crowded airports and long waits for car services if you’re traveling to Florida for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. And good luck finding a rental car.

“We are now expecting more than 115,000 passengers each day this weekend through Tuesday, which is equal to what we had pre-pandemic in 2019,” Greg Chin, communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, said in an email.

And the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is anticipating hotel occupancy levels to surge above pre-pandemic levels, the agency’s CEO Rolando Aedo told the Miami Herald. The visitors bureau projects countywide hotel occupancy to be as much as 8% higher on Saturday than it was on the same day in 2019.

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“We’ve gone through so many crises as a destination, and the trend has been fairly consistent,” said Aedo. “We tend to outpace other destinations in recovery.”

But the crowds aren’t just heading to South Florida. The Orlando area is also booming with travelers as the major theme parks have loosened some of the COVID-19 restrictions in place since they reopened last summer.

“Our Memorial Day holiday passenger forecast indicates that we are approaching 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, which is a testament to the resiliency of Central Florida,” Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said in a news release. “A combination of factors including the vaccines, availability of seats into the market and pent-up demand all point to a potentially strong summer travel season.”

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