Orlando, FL–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–August 30, 2004–A summer that brought record high gas prices and travel approaching pre-9/11 levels will end with potentially record high Labor Day holiday travel, according to AAA. AAA estimates that 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.2 percent increase from last year’s record-matching 33.4 million travelers.
Approximately 28.7 million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.0 percent increase from the 28.1 million who drove a year ago.
Another 3.9 million (11 percent of holiday travelers) plan to travel by airplane, up 4.0 percent from the 3.7 million that flew last Labor Day. A projected 1.5 million vacationers (5 percent) will go by train, bus, or other mode of transportation, about even with a year ago.
“This strong summer travel season appears headed for a strong Labor Day finale that might set records,” said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes. “Crowded airports, full hotels, and sold-out tours and cruises have been the hallmark of this summer as Americans rediscover summer vacations. A strong Labor Day weekend should be the icing on the summer cake for many parts of the travel industry, and our travel agency bookings look strong for the remainder of 2004.”
Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide currently averaging $1.87 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline—about 15 cents higher than the then-record levels hit last Labor Day holiday.
“The current high gas prices won’t keep people off the highways this holiday,” said Hughes. “American vacationers have taken to the roads in droves this summer, despite gas prices that hit new records at Memorial Day and have run at historic highs all summer long.”
Improved consumer confidence, widespread discount airfares and increased confidence in travel security have helped spur the strong summer travel, according to AAA.
The greatest number of Labor Day auto travelers will originate in the West with 7.0 million, followed by the Southeast, 6.8 million; Midwest, 5.5 million; Northeast, 4.9 million; and the Great Lakes, 4.5 million.
The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.5 million, followed by the Southeast with 1.2 million; Northeast, 500,000; Great Lakes, 400,000; and Midwest, 300,000;.
Oceans and beaches top the list of preferred destinations this holiday with 26 percent of travel volume. Small towns and rural areas took a close second with 21 percent, followed by cities, 16 percent. Outdoor attractions rate high with lakes, 12 percent; mountains, 10 percent; and state/national parks, 4 percent. Theme/amusement parks, 3 percent, rounded out the list while another 5 percent responded with other, and 3 percent said they didn’t know.
Hotel occupancy rates should remain high, as 40 percent of Labor Day travelers expect to stay at a hotel/motel. The other top choice is friends or relatives, 33 percent, followed by camper/trailer/RV/tent, 13 percent; cabin/condo, 7 percent; bed and breakfast, 1 percent; other, 1 percent; no overnight stay, 2 percent, and didn’t know, 3 percent.
Research for Labor Day travel is based on a national telephone survey of 1,300 adults by the Travel Industry Association of American, which conducts special research for AAA.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 47 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services and member-only savings. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
Aymee V. Ruiz, MBA, (407) 921-5509