TAMPA, Fla. (June 24) - The number of Americans expected to travel this Fourth of July Weekend is projected to decrease by 1.9% largely becuase of consumer concerns over personal finances, rising unemployment, and the sluggish economy. Nationwide, 37.1 million are projected to travel for Independence Day gatherings.
For those who do travel, even if they choose to venture closer to home, outstanding discounts on travel packages, dining and attractions abound. Consumers plan to take advantage of the many travel deals currently available and that is one of the reasons why air travel is projected to increase by 4.9 percent versus last year.
Conversely, the number of people choosing to drive is projected to decrease by 2.6 percent. Even though gasoline prices are down significantly from where they were a year ago, the relatively steep price increase seen in May and most of June (54 consecutive days of price increases) may have diminished interest in car trips.
In Florida, 1.8 million people are projected to travel; while 1 million are expected to travel in Georgia, and 857,000 are projected to travel in Tennessee.
AAA's travel projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during major holiday periods. The complete AAA/HIS Global Insight 2009 July Fourth holiday forecast can be found at www.AAA.com/news.
"Although the research (completed in early June) suggests some consumer apprehension, the fact that gasoline prices appear to have peaked and may be on their way down may encourage some families to reconsider a vacation getaway starting with this holiday weekend," said Kevin Bakewell, Senior Vice President, AAA Auto Club South. "We've had many visitors come to our branch offices in recent weeks coming in to plan family vacations, cruises and tours so perhaps there's more optimism in our territory than the national survey data reflects."
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, air fares throughout the Fourth of July holiday weekend are expected to decrease by 16 percent from last year as air passengers will pay as little as $169. Car rental rates are projected to edge up slightly to $51 per day compared to $49 per day last year. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond-rated properties and Two Diamond properties are expected to decline by 12 percent.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its more than 50 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. 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. AAA Auto Club South is the fourth largest affiliate of AAA with more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Middle and West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico.