RICHMOND, Virginia (WRIC) – Virginia is open and tourism is now increasing. Experts say more people are visiting Richmond, booking hotels, and dinning money into the economy.

The Greater Richmond Convention Center, which hosts large gatherings and events, isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about social distancing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, events slowly got bigger, said Michael Meyers, the general manager of the convention center.

All COVID-19 occupancy restrictions in Virginia end before Memorial Day weekend

“We started doing events in July. Smaller events, events that could distance themselves socially, ”Meyers told 8News.

However, now that Virginia is open, Meyers said normal events are scheduled again, welcoming people from all over the place. These events can include several thousand people.

“You will be here for a few days, staying in hotels, spending money,” Meyers explained.

May 28th, Governor Ralph Northam Nationwide social distancing and capacity restrictions lifted.

RVA is reaping the benefits, said Jack Berry of Richmond Region Tourism.

“We are very, very optimistic that 2021 will be pretty good,” he said.

TSA juggles with double passenger traffic, changes at the checkpoint, “minimum manning” at RIC

Without restrictions, sports tourism, attractions and weddings are much better off. Berry said as more people get vaccinated we are seeing a shift in travel.

“Now you can see that people are comfortable traveling and travel just exploded. You see it in the airport, you see it on the interstate, ”said Berry.

However, he believes the next steps are in the air: “How will business travel adapt now that you and I are familiar with Zoom? [Microsoft] Teams? “