AAA: Cheaper gas prices to encourage more July Fourth travel
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
6/20/12 at 4:35 AM
More Americans will travel during the Fourth of July holiday period than any Independence Day in the past five years, encouraged by cheaper gasoline prices and flat airfares in major markets, AAA said Tuesday.
An estimated 42.3 million U.S. residents will travel more than 50 miles from home, up 4.9 percent from a year ago, AAA said.
"AAA's projection for a decade-high number of Independence Day travelers is being fed by Americans' appetite for travel, a midweek holiday and lower gas prices," said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA-Oklahoma. "This is the second holiday this year when travelers have indicated a determination to travel while economizing on other aspects of their trip."
The anticipated Independence Day holiday travel volume will tie the previous high mark set in 2007 and represents nearly a 42 percent increase from 2009 at the depths of the recession, the leisure travel organization said in a news release.
The July Fourth holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3, through Sunday, July 8.
In Oklahoma, 543,500 people are forecast to travel over the Independence Day holiday period, up 4.7 percent from last year.
Auto travel in Oklahoma is predicted to increase 3.8 percent from a year ago, to 468,000 state residents, while air travel will be up 9.7 percent, to 65,800 Oklahomans, AAA said.
Lower gas prices are contributing to the increased travel volume, AAA said.
The national average gasoline price Tuesday of $3.50 per gallon is 19 cents cheaper than the price one month ago and 15 cents less than the same date in 2011, AAA said. Tuesday's national average gas price is 44 cents below the year-to-date peak price of $3.94 in early April.
In Oklahoma, the average statewide price Tuesday of $3.40 is nearly 12 cents cheaper than a year ago.
In Tulsa, the average price of $3.296 per gallon compares with $3.473 a year ago.
About 35.5 million people across the nation plan to travel by motor vehicle over the holiday period, 4 percent more than a year ago and the highest motor vehicle travel volume in a decade, AAA said.
The travel club said 84 percent of all Fourth of July holiday travelers will be arriving at their destination by car, pickup or recreational vehicle.
An estimated 3.2 million U.S. leisure travelers - 8 percent of all holiday travelers - will fly to their destinations during the Independence Day holiday period, up 9 percent from the same period last year. This year's increase is the third consecutive year of rising July Fourth air travel volume following the decade low 1.4 million air travelers in 2009, the travel survey found.
Airfares are flat year over year with an average lowest round-trip fare of $200 for the top 40 U.S. air routes in 2011 and 2012, AAA said.
It said 8 percent of holiday travelers, or 3.6 million people nationwide, are expected to use other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship, up 10 percent from a year ago.
AAA's survey showed a 4 percent increase in Fourth of July holiday hotel rates from AAA Three Diamond lodgings, with travelers spending an average of $164 per night compared with $157 last year. The cost per night of Two Diamond hotel rooms is up 9 percent, to $120.
Weekend daily car rental rates will average $40, a 9 percent decrease from a year ago.
The AAA survey found that since July 4 falls on a Wednesday, the timing will play a role in driving holiday traffic volume as the midweek holiday provides travelers the option of including a weekend and two week days on either side of the actual holiday.
Original Print Headline: Holiday travel boom
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
Fireworks light up the night at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., a popular destination for Independence Day travelers. Fourth of July travel volumes will be nearly 42 percent higher than during the depths of the recession in 2009, according to projections by AAA. PRNEWSFOTO / Disneyland Resort