AAA Predicts Small Decrease in Labor Day Holiday Travel

Depending on where your plans take you this weekend, you may not be able to tell it, but AAA projects that almost 320,000 fewer Americans will be hitting the road to travel 50 miles or more from home for the Labor Day holiday. The association's estimate of nearly 34.38 million U.S. travelers represents a slight decrease (0.9 percent) from last year's 34.7 million for the same weekend and marks the third consecutive travel period with a projected year-to-year decline in travelers.

"More travelers concerned about the economy, gasoline prices, and rising airfares are opting to travel by train, bus, motorcycle, and cruise ship to their holiday weekend destinations," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "This trend points to a desire on the part of the American public to seek alternatives to flying and driving to enjoy the traditional end of summer vacation."

According to AAA, approximately 28.64 million Americans (more than 83 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to travel by automobile, a 1.1 percent decrease from the 28.97 million people who drove to their holiday destinations last year. The national average for self-serve regular gasoline is $3.69 per gallon. Americans traveling by automobile will encounter gasoline prices about 40 cents less than the Fourth of July travel holiday, but still 91 cents more than this time last year.

Meanwhile, almost 3.96 million Americans (11.5 percent of holiday travelers) intend to travel by airplane, a 4.5 percent decrease from the 4.14 million people who flew last year. A projected 1.8 million Americans (5 percent of holiday travelers) plan to travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation. That represents an increase of 12.5 percent (or 200,000 travelers) more than the 1.6 million who traveled by a mode other than automobile or airplane last year.

The greatest number of Labor Day holiday weekend automobile travelers will originate in the West with 7.2 million, followed by the Southeast with 6.6 million, the Midwest with 5.5 million, the Northeast with 4.8 million, and the Great Lakes with 4.5 million. The West also is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.5 million, followed by the Southeast's 1.3 million; Northeast's 500,000, Great Lakes' 400,000, and Midwest's 300,000. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report Web site (www.aaafuelgaugereport.com) lists average daily prices for the nation, all 50 states and more than 250 localities for all grades of gasoline.

Research for Labor Day weekend holiday travel projections are derived from the Travel Industry Association's (TIA) Holiday Travel Forecast Model. The model was developed based on consumer travel intentions and TIA's quarterly travel forecast data. AAA says the travel intentions data are collected through an online survey of more than 2,000 adults nationwide, supplemented by an additional 6,500 Americans surveyed from the top 10 states of travel origin in the United States. Historical travel volume and other economic data such as GDP, disposable income, employment, and travel costs (including fuel prices) also are incorporated into the model. Analysis of the data and the forecasts are produced by the Travel Industry Association, which conducts special research for AAA.

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