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Vacation bookings, air travel on the rise

The Portland International Jetport said there has been a nearly 45% increase in the number of passengers since last week

MAINE, Maine — More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, air travel is taking off once again.

"Each week as we see more and more people getting vaccinated, we are definitely seeing an uptick in traffic," said Zachary Sundquist, assistant airport director at the Portland International Jetport.

The Portland International Jetport said there has been a nearly 45 percent increase in the number of passengers since last week.

"We're still down 40-45 percent from 2019, but it's a nice increase," said Sundquist.

Vacation bookings are also on the rise.

"It is nice after 12 months of very little activity, to see folks wake up and say 'I'm ready to go.' And it almost always starts with, 'I have my second shot appointment on x date or I just got my second shot and I want to go somewhere,'" said Rene Schneeberger of Portland-based Direct Travel.

Schneeberger said there has been a steady increase in the number of people booking vacations in the last two weeks.

"We see a lot of interest --i f it's not short term -- for a Q4 of 2021. That's your October through December window, Thanksgiving, holiday season," said Schneeberger.

He advises people to book now to places where you feel comfortable going.

"What ends up happening is pricing goes up and inventory shrinks. We already have some periods of the year -- Thanksgiving week for example -- where a lot of resorts are full and so if you snooze, you lose," said Schneeberger.

Meanwhile, the Jetport said the increase is mostly tied to April break, and expects to see another uptick between Memorial Day and Labor Day, depending on the pandemic.

The US CDC said people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the United States.

The CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are full vaccinated.

The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is also seeing an uptick as well. Executive director Patricia Quinn said as travel restrictions lifted, they saw ridership start to rebound. She also said college students are riding more, as colleges resume in-person classes.

Quinn said in the next few weeks, the Amtrak Downeaster will be adding another roundtrip to the schedule, so people can go to Boston to see sports games.