New Hampshire is gearing up for what is expected to be an unprecedented summer tourism season.
Gov. Chris Sununu kicked things off Friday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"I've been saying it for a long time, we're going to have a phenomenal summer here in New Hampshire," Sununu said.
It was a typical press conference at the Loudon racetrack, but as the Granite State emerges from the pandemic with the fastest vaccination rate in the country, standing in "Victory Lane" took on a whole new meaning.
"It's pretty symbolic to be kicking off the summer doing 125, 135 miles per hour down a straightaway," Sununu said.
And so, that's exactly what he did — going full throttle into summer 2021 from behind the wheel of a Lamborghini.
"Everyone, not just from across Northeast, but across America, will be flooding into New Hampshire enjoying not just the race, but our lakes, and our rivers, and mountains and all of our tourist attractions," Sununu said.
Industry leaders are expecting a record-setting summer.
"We're looking at almost $2 billion worth of spending this year," said Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the state's Department of Economic Affairs.
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He says it's proof people are ready to travel and looking toward to the Granite State.
"We worked hard to keep consumer confidence high so that when we could reopen, people would be vaccinated, we could accept everyone, and people would feel safe coming here," Caswell explained.
Friday was evidence that visitors are already flocking to the Speedway for a more normal race season. And nearby restaurants that struggled last summer are reaping the benefits again.
"People are ready to come out and spend some money," said John Cronin, who owns Loudon's Eggshell Restaurant. "So it looks like this coming season, this summer will be strong."
It's been 62 weeks since the governor issued a statewide "stay-at-home" order. Officials on Friday had the opposite message: "Leave home, and come to the Granite State."
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