Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Travel



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AAA Projects an Increase in Holiday Travel

Boise--AAA is projecting 87.7 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home during the year-end holidays. This is a 3.8 percent increase from the 84.5 million Americans who traveled during the Christmas rush last year,which is the greatest projected increase for any major holiday this year.

Last year, the total number of travelers during the holidays dropped 4.7 percent from 2007. In the Pacific region 14.9 million travelers are expected to travel during the holidays, an increase of 11.2 percent from last year. Changes in travel rates range from a low of -4.7 percent in the South Atlantic region to 15 percent in the West North Central region.

More Americans traveling during the winter holidays is another sign consumers are growing more confident in their personal financial situations, says Marie Dodds, Public Affairs Director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. With Christmas and New Year's Day both falling on Fridays this year, many people will take advantage of long weekends to travel."

"The travel industry as a whole is picking up from where it was a year ago, and we'll likely see travel rates continue to increase throughout 2010," says Doreen Loofburrow, AAA Oregon/Idaho Director of Travel.

"The moderate projected rise in the number of air travelers this holiday period is especially welcome since the airline industry was hit very hard by the global recession. Higher Gas Prices Won't Deter Holiday Travelers Travel by car is the predominant mode of travel during the holidays, with 77.7 million going by automobile compared to 74.4 million last year; an increase of 4.4 percent. That means about 88 percent of year-end vacationers will drive to their holiday destinations.

In the Pacific region, 13 million will go by car, an increase of 11.9 percent over last year. Gas prices are about a dollar a gallon more expensive than a year ago, but that's not keeping holiday travelers home. Pump prices are still well below $3 per gallon, which can be a tipping point for many consumers, and prices have been stable since mid-October, with the national average remaining between about $2.59 and $2.70 a gallon, and Oregon's average between $2.70 and $2.76.

The number of travelers by air is expected be 4.2 million compared to 4.1 million in 2008; an increase of 2.9 percent. That means five percent of all holiday travelers will go by air. The number of those traveling by other means, including, trains, watercraft, buses and multiple-modes of transportation, is expected to be 5.8 million compared to 6.0 million last year, a decline of 3.1 percent.

The largest average share of all spending will be on transportation and transportation-related charges. Approximately 11.6 percent of spending will go toward lodging. Dining will account for 17.6 percent of total holiday spending, while shopping will account for 18.6 percent.

Entertainment and recreation expenses will account for 13.1 percent of the average travel budget.In the Pacific Region, average spending is expected to be a bit higher than the national average at $1,135, mostly because of higher fuel costs in this area. Christmas and New Year travelers will average 791 miles roundtrip, which is slightly lower than the 815 mile average traveled over Thanksgiving.

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