Travel projections up for Labor Day despite rising gas prices

MOTORISTS wait in long lines at a toll plaza along the Florida Turnpike in Lantana.
Posted 8/23/12

PROVIDENCE – AAA Southern New England projects a 2.9 percent increase in Labor Day travel. The trade group estimates that 33 million U.S. residents will travel 50 miles or more from their home during the Labor Day holiday period between Thursday, Aug. 30, and Monday, Sept. 3.

This number is up roughly 900,000 travelers from 2011 numbers.

According to AAA, the total number of Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high and is the third increase in holiday travel this year after travel increases in both the Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday periods.

“Despite a sluggish economy and recent rises in gas prices, the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and American’s unwavering desire to travel,” said the AAA release.

According to a survey of traveler intentions, roughly 28.2 million, or 85 percent, of holiday travelers will make their Labor Day journey by automobile, a rise of 3.1 percent from those who traveled by car in 2011. Roughly 2.5 million, or 8 percent of travelers, will take a trip by air. The remaining 7 percent will travel by cruise ship, bus or rail.

“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume, it is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel,” Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England senior vice president of public & government affairs, said in a statement. “Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget.”

Travel from New England is expected to rise by 3 percent over last year, just ahead of the 2.9 percent increase forecast nationally. Automobile travel is expected to increase 3.2 percent, while travel by air is anticipated to rise 3.7 percent.

According to the trade group, 11.3 percent of the New England population is expected to travel, exceeding the projection of 10.5 percent of the national population.

AAA’s travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by Boston-based economic research and consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

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