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El Paso International Airport braced for holiday travel surge

EL PASO, Texas -- Visit El Paso opened its new visitor information center at the El Paso International Airport Friday, just in time for holiday travel

It includes a retail store filled with local merchandise, everything from buttons and shirts, to mugs - as well as a lounge area, interactive screen and visitor information.

With holiday travel now starting, Brooke Underwood, executive director of Visit El Paso, said it was the perfect time to open the store for travelers to do some early holiday shopping.

“This is a great opportunity to not only provide the information that we’ve always provided, especially coming into the holidays, lots of great events happening, but also to give travelers a little bit of an opportunity to shop local vendors, different artists that they’d find in this region,” said Underwood.

“This is a great opportunity and a partnership with Destination El Paso to really help promote our local community for the passengers that come in and out of our airport,” said Sam Rodriguez, the airport director.

Underwood said that all local artists and vendors are welcome to display their items at no cost, and if they would like to be a part of the store they can reach out to ‘Visit El Paso’ through social media.

The store is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

But as holiday travel begins, some flyers already face issues.

“Definitely I have already experienced some delays, you know everybody is trying to get to their place all at once right,” said traveler Jorge Martinez.

On top of delay times, travelers also said the prices had increased for their flights.

“Oh yeah, flights are so high now, I could have gotten a ticket for about $300, and now it's like $500 or something higher,” said traveler Olivia Bynoe.

“I'd rather drive, if I could drive and have the time off I would,” added traveler Morgan Taylor.

“Today actually marks the beginning of the holiday travel season as well, so we’re expecting a big weekend, a week coming up ahead and heading to Christmas we’re expecting a lot of passengers coming in and out,” explained Rodriguez.

He said that the airport has started enhanced cleaning throughout the terminal and is working closely with public health authorities to ensure that the airport is as safe as possible.

Rodriguez added that with the extra passengers expected, he advises people to arrive earlier than usual at the airport.

Brianna Perez

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