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Portland expected to see its busiest summer tourism season in years

With the return of big summer events like the Rose Festival and Waterfront Blues Festival, tourism officials are expecting a strong year.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After struggling with tourism over the past two years, the city of Portland could soon get its biggest influx of visitors since beginning of the pandemic. 

Marcus Hibdon with Travel Portland said demand for hotel rooms is increasing, and it's already looking like it will be a strong season for summer tourism.  

"Demand for hotel rooms is up nearly 105% over this period last year, and hotel revenue is up almost 160% from January through April," he said.

Hibdon said large events like the Rose Festival, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Waterfront Blues Festival are all expected to bring in a lot of tourists. He said COVID restrictions, which prevented these kinds of attractions the past tow summers, had a major impact on tourism. 

"We think it's probably going to be another couple of years until we hit those record-breaking levels we did in 2018 and 2019, but time will tell. The pandemic seems to be loosening up, which has been great," Hibdon said.

RELATED: Prepare for sticker shock if you are traveling this summer

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Cheryl's on 12th — a restaurant in downtown Portland — was packed with customers. Owner Cheryl Casey even though she's seen a return to normalcy in recent months, her business depends on Portland's tourism industry. 

"We really need the summer. That's where a lot of our business comes from and it helps us get through the winter, the slower times," Casey said. "We had a great weekend this past Memorial Day. It was very busy," Casey said. 

Hibdon said business travel has been slower to recover than the leisure sector.

"A lot of people are still working from home," Hibdon said. "A lot of businesses are still not back in the office yet, and that's downtown Portland and across the country."

RELATED: Portland's Grand Floral Parade will stick to the east side this year

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