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Georgia’s Thanksgiving travel to increase this year

More than 1.1 million Georgians will use different modes of transportation to travel 50 miles or more, to their Thanksgiving destinations, according to a spokeswoman for The AAA Auto Club Group.

Jessica Brady said the travel will occur during the Thanksgiving holiday period, from Nov. 23, to Nov. 27. The difference in travel will be a 3.3 percent increase over last year, she said.

From a national perspective, overall travel will increase 4 percent over last year, with 42.5 million Americans taking a trip of 50 miles or more. Brady said this is the second year in a row that Thanksgiving travel has been predicted to increase on a national level.

“This is definitely a positive sign for the travel industry,” added Brent Hubele, vice president of AAA Travel, The Auto Club Group. “Despite sluggish economic news, more people plan to travel this year than last, showing a slow but steady recovery.”

Hubele said pent-up demand may be the dominating factor for holiday travel this year.

Brady added that most people around the nation will opt to travel by car. There will be 38.2 million American motorists on the roads, an increase of 4 percent from 2010, she said.

In Georgia, more than 1 million drivers will hit the roads, which gives the state’s motorists a 3.3 percent increase from the prior year –– the same increase as for travel by all modes in Georgia during the holiday period.

The Peach State is predicted to have 84,013 air travelers this year, an 1.2 percent rise over last year, said Brady. The U.S. will have 3.4 million folks in the skies, an 1.8 percent boost.

Though there will be people choosing to journey by airplane, they may have to pay the price, she said. “Fuel costs, combined with steady air travel demand and capacity cuts, have resulted in rising airfares over the past year,” she explained.

Airfares during the Thanksgiving holiday period are predicted to be 20 percent higher than last year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. The average lowest round-trip price will be $212 for the top 40 U.S. routes, according to the index.

The remaining 2 percent of travelers in the U.S. will journey using other modes of transportation, such as by bus, train or watercraft, she said. This is a total of 905,000 travelers, a whopping 14.7 percent increase over last year.

In Georgia, only 14,360 people will travel using these methods, which is still a 14 percent jump over 2010, she said.

The average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving period will be 706 miles, a decrease of 13.5 percent from 2010, she said. Travelers are predicted to have a median spending level of $554, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.

“Thanksgiving holiday travel is typically less expensive than other travel holidays, because of the emphasis on the Thanksgiving meal and gathering of friends and family,” Brady said.

AAA’s Thanksgiving travel projections are derived from economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight, an economic research and consulting company based in Boston, Mass. For more information, visit, www.AAA.com.