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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 during the holiday, a 2.2 % increase from last year’s record-matching 33.4 million travelers.
Approximately 28.7 million travelers, or 84% of all holiday travelers, expect to go by motor vehicle while another 3.9 million plan to travel by airplane. A projected 1.5 million vacationers 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 million, followed by: Southeast, 6.8 million; Midwest, 5.5 million; Northeast, 4.9 million; and the Great Lakes, 4.5 million.