Americans have postponed, but presumably not canceled, their summer travel planning because of concerns about the duration of the war in Iraq, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) National Travel Barometer.
In a statement issued today (March 28), North America’s largest leisure travel agency reports travel reservations during the week of March 17 were 76% of what they were a year ago and 87% of what they were during the week of March 10.
The greatest impact was felt by the cruise industry, which experienced a 39% decline in reservations when the week of March 17 is compared with the same week a year ago, according to AAA Travel.
Meanwhile, car rental reservations were down 27%, tour package reservations were down 24% and hotel reservations were down 22% compared to the same period last year.
Although RV rental reservations for the coming summer have declined sharply during the past month, the beginning of the war appears to have had little impact on the retail market for RVs, according to several dealers.
The RV retail market during the first quarter was off a little when compared with the first quarter of 2002 for a variety of reasons, including severe winter weather in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states this year, versus a mild winter during the first quarter of 2002, according to some dealers.
Other dealers blame sluggish economic growth for their slightly lower sales volumes so far this year.
Low interest rates have offset the impact of sharply higher gas and diesel fuel prices, many RV dealers believe.
In the RV rental sector, at least one firm, Cruise America Inc., believes more reservations will come in once the international military and political situation becomes more certain.
AAA Travel shares that point of view about the travel industry in general. “As the war in Iraq progresses during the coming weeks and we get closer to Memorial Day, we believe travelers will resume making plans for summer travel,” according to Sandra Hughes, vice president of AAA Travel.