Labor Day travel is expected to be the highest in at least nine
years with more than 33.4 million Americans projected to travel 50
miles or more from home this holiday, according to AAA.
In a boost for the West, the greatest number of auto travelers
is expected to originate in the region nearly 6.9 million as well
as the largest number of air travelers about 1.4 million, AAA said
in its annual forecast.
More than 80 percent of all holiday travelers about 28.2 million
are expected to go by car, despite rising gas prices across the
Experts have estimated prices for regular, unleaded gasoline
have risen an average 5 cents a gallon in recent weeks.
AAA last week estimated that 33.4 million Americans would be on
the road this holiday weekend, up by about 1.8 percent from last
year welcome news for a travel industry that has been sluggish most
of the year.
The previous high for Labor Day travel was 33.2 million in 1995,
“The early arrival of Labor Day will cut summer short for many
families, placing a bit more emphasis on this last shot at summer
vacation,” said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes.
In an effort to capture potential summer and fall travelers,
some in the industry have begun offering special incentives. Last
week, hotels.com began offering a free tank of gas, up to $20, for
travelers booking rooms on its Web site through Sept. 30 for stays
through Dec. 31.
“We are seeing more people choosing to travel closer to home and
the popularity of drive-to destinations is on the rise,” Bob
Diener, president and co-founder of Hotels.com, said in a
Air travel continues to remain sluggish, with about 3.7 million
travelers, or 11 percent, expected to fly, down 2.6 percent from
Nearly 30 percent of travelers said their top destination would
be a city; 21 percent, towns and rural areas; 18 percent, oceans
and beaches; 11 percent, lakes; 8 percent, mountains; 4 percent,
state/ national parks; 2 percent, theme/ amusement parks.
Nearly half of all travelers said they expect to stay in a hotel
or motel. The survey is a national telephone poll of 1,300 adults
by the Travel Industry Association of American, which conducts
special research for AAA.