Growth Forecast For Summer Travel Despite High Gas Prices
AAA Colorado projects the number of travelers in the Mountain region (which includes Colorado) this Memorial Day holiday weekend will increase 1.4 percent over 2011 with approximately 2.7 million residents taking a trip 50 miles or more away from home.
This year, Colorado gasoline prices peaked in mid–April at $3.90 a gallon, a month earlier than the $3.77 mid–May peak in 2011. Today’s average price for regular gasoline in Colorado is $3.81. With high gas prices squeezing consumers’ spending power this spring, consumers are responding by traveling shorter distances this Memorial Day holiday. The average distance projected to be traveled by Mountain states residents is 677 miles, less than half of the last year’s average distance.
Nationwide, 34.8 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend, a 1.2 percent increase over last year when 34.3 million Americans traveled during the same period. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is May 24 - 28.
Automobile is transportation choice, air travel down
Approximately 2.3 million Mountain region travelers plan to drive to their destination, an increase of 1.6 percent from last year. Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (88 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend. Air travel will be down 5.2 percent in the Mountain region with 220,000 travelers. Miles flown for weekend travel are typically longer than those driven which also contributes to the shorter average distance for trips this year.
Impact of gasoline prices
on travel spending
In addition to going shorter distances, travelers plan to reduce spending on entertainment, stay with friends and relatives or at a lower priced hotel or stay in a hotel that includes value–added amenities like free breakfast and internet. Those travelling in the Mountain region expect to spend an average of $652 during the Memorial Day holiday. This is a reduction from one year ago when total spending in the Mountain region averaged $870 per trip.
Outdoor Activities Popular
The Memorial Day holiday is a time when Americans gather with family and friends to kickoff the summer season and begin spending more time in the great outdoors. Dining will play a role in Memorial Day festivities for 48 percent of Mountain region residents and 34 percent plan to visit with friends and relatives. Outdoor activities will be popular in the Mountain region with travelers listing touring/sightseeing, visiting a national or state park and hiking or biking as weekend plans.
Airfares and car rental rates drop, hotel rates rise
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Memorial Day holiday airfares nationwide are expected to be seven percent lower than last year with an average lowest round–trip rate of $189 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase eight percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $160 per night compared to $148 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay 10 percent more with an average cost of $120 per night. Weekend daily car rental rates will average $36, four percent ($2) less than last year.
Article courtesy of AAA Colorado, visit www.AAA.com.