0

AAA predicts increase in holiday travel

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The state of Georgia should expect an increase in travel during the Independence Day holiday, July 2-5, said Jessica Brady, spokesperson for the American Automobile Association's Auto Club South.

According to AAA's holiday-travel projections, Georgia will experience an increase of 11 percent in travelers, compared to last year. These projected travelers are residents, who will be journeying 50 miles, or more, within the Peach State, Brady said.

For the state of Georgia, it is projected that there will be 834,641 motorists; 37,273 air travelers, and 38,384 travelers on buses or trains, over the holiday period. That equals a projected total of about 910,000 travelers, said Brady.

The Independence Day projections for national travel is an increase of 17.1 percent, compared to last year's actual numbers, with 34.9 million individuals traveling within their state, a distance of at least 50 miles or more, she said.

Brady said last year's national projections, however, did not match the significantly lower number of actual travelers last year, likely because of the severely depressed economy nationwide.

"Overall, travel sentiment for Independence Day weekend is very high compared to last year, when the U.S economy was in a very different place, and Americans felt the strain of the recession," said Brady. "Optimism is high this year for Independence Day travel, as more Americans report they plan to travel, since they stayed home last year, mainly for financial reasons."

She said 90 percent of people will travel by automobile, a national increase of 17.7 percent, from 2009. The national average price for regular gasoline is expected to be between $2.70 and $2.85, for the coming holiday weekend, she added.

Air travel will increase nationally by 8.2 percent, compared to 2009, Brady said, and there will be a projected 1.56 million air travelers, an increase from the 1.44 million who flew last year.

Brady said AAA Auto Club South also conducted an oil-spill survey, May 24-28, to find out the effect it is having on people considering a trip to the Gulf Coast. At the time, the survey concluded that most people still planned to visit the area.

"The situation in the Gulf continues to change rapidly, and the long-term impact on tourism in the Gulf Coast region is still unknown," said Brady. "Currently, the majority of Florida's beaches are unaffected, beautiful and open to the public."

Brady added that AAA Auto Club South will be conducting a follow-up survey on the issue, until June 28.

"AAA's travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight," explained Brady. "The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm partnered with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays."