NIAGARA FALLS N.Y. (WIVB) – The past two summers have been brutal for the tourism industry, but the easing of COVID-19 restrictions is giving hope to businesses that they will bounce back.

“The weather today has been a little off, but it’s not snowing so we’re happy. But Friday and Saturday there was a great turnout,” said Kory Schuler, who’s the executive director of the Niagara Area Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of people are excited to start getting out and doing things again so we’re excited to see what the season holds for us.”

All weekend long people stopped by Niagara Falls to take pictures and go on the Maid of the Mist, now that the attraction is open for the season.

“I just graduated from college and we’re kind of like doing a trip to celebrate graduation,” said Terese Lujua, who went on the Maid of the Mist with her parents, who were visiting from Spain. “Have some fun and wanted to come see and enjoy the views.”

News 4 caught up with tourists who traveled here from Spain and Ireland. And people who stopped by for the weekend from cities like Detroit, Michigan.

“They’ve been having fun. Its all new to them so they’ve been having a nice time,” said Michael Green, who brought his family from Detroit to see the falls.

“It’s very beautiful. Spectacular,” said Joey Edwards and Katie Ball, who were visiting from Ireland. “The water. The talent. There’s a lot of history here. We come from an area surrounded by water so naturally we’re attracted to it.”

“We’re seeing people coming from all over. It’s been several years that we’ve had restrictions and not that COVID’s not still a thing but I think people are ready to get back to normal and one of those things is taking a vacation,” Schuler said.

More tourists, means more people to check out local businesses in the falls, including at Anchor Bar, located on Buffalo Avenue in the Falls.

“We’re hoping for people just to flood Niagara Falls. It’s been 2 years of craziness. We’re hoping this year people feel back to normal, comfortable with going out and experiencing our wonder of the world here,” said Jackie Smith, who’s the general manager of Anchor Bar in the Falls. “It’s amazing because we’re getting our fellow Canadians over here, experiencing the anchor bar here in Niagara Falls and we’re excited to have everyone out.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.