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Labor Day travel to increase this year

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The American Automobile Association projects there will be many more travelers on the roads, and in the skies, during the upcoming Labor Day holiday period, Sept. 2-6, according to a spokesperson for AAA Auto Club South.

Spokeswoman Jessica Brady said that, in the state of Georgia, Labor Day travel is projected to increase by 7.1 percent this year, compared to 2009. More than 921,000 Georgia residents will take a trip 50 miles or more away from their homes, she said.

Overall travel in the South Altantic region of the U.S., is projected to increase by 7.7 percent over last year, with 5.9 million travelers, said Brady.

"Labor Day typically marks the end of summer travel and we're seeing more people deciding to take one last summer trip before the fall," added Brent Hubele, vice president of AAA Travel. "This is great news as travel projections are up overall, not only in the state and region, but in the country as a whole."

More than 854,000 Georgians are expected to travel by automobile during the Labor Day weekend, said Brady. This year, motorist-travel is projected to be up over 2009's travel numbers by 7.5 percent, she said.

AAA, she said, is expecting retail prices for regular gasoline to range between $2.55, and $2.65 per gallon, but could be affected if disruptive, tropical-storm activities arise in the Gulf Coast region.

"The impact of the [BP] oil spill has resulted in more travelers changing their destination from the Gulf to other areas, rather than causing massive amounts of cancellations," said AAA's Hubele. "The good news is the South Atlantic region is moving in a positive direction from last year, with a healthy increase in Labor Day travel."

Air travel is predicted to increase 2.8 percent in the Peach State, said Brady. Travel by bus, train or other form of transportation is expected to increase 2.5 percent in Georgia, she added. "According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, airfares over the Labor Day holiday weekend are expected to increase 9 percent from last year, with the lowest round-trip rates moving up to $179 for the top 40 U.S. air routes," she said.

Brady said Georgia provides the "second-largest share of tourism output," contributing 13.2 percent in the South Atlantic region, with Atlanta being one of the top tourism cities in the country. Florida leads in tourism output within the region, with a 40 percent contribution, even after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said Brady. This is due to Florida's high profile beaches and amusement parks, she added.

"Total U.S. travel is projected to increase almost 10 percent with more than 34.4 million Americans taking a trip of 50 miles or more this Labor Day weekend," she said. "Although the South Atlantic region is expected [to] see an increase in travel, the year-over-year growth is less than other census regions as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."

Brady said that based on a survey of traveler intentions, it was determined that the average distance that will be traveled by Americans, for the holiday weekend, is expected to be 635 miles. In 2009, the average distance was 645 miles, she explained.