RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is open and tourism is now on the rise. Experts say more people are visiting Richmond, booking hotels and feeding money back into the economy.

The Greater Richmond Convention Center, which hold large gatherings and events, is not the first thing to come to mind when you think of social distancing.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, events slowly grew larger, said Michael Meyers, the Convention Center’s general manager.

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

However, now that Virginia is open, Meyers said normal events are scheduled again, welcoming people from all over. Those events can be as large as several thousand people.

“They’ll be here for a few days, staying in hotels, spending money,” Meyers explained.

On May 28, Gov. Ralph Northam lifted social distancing and capacity restrictions statewide.

RVA is reaping the benefits, according to Jack Berry with Richmond Region Tourism.

“We are very, very optimistic that 2021 is going to fair out pretty well,” he said.

With no more restrictions, sports tourism, attractions and weddings are doing much better. Berry said as more people are vaccinated, we are seeing a shift in travel.

“Now, you see people are comfortable with travel and so travel has just exploded. You see it in the airport, you see it on the interstate,” said Berry.

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