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Press releaseSALT LAKE CITY, August 31, 2009 - The combination of bad timing coupled with a soft economy is putting a major damper on Labor Day travel plans, according to a new report from AAA Utah.
The new AAA report predicts just over 2.6 million people in the Mountain States will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend. That's a 6 percent decrease in overall travel from 2008. Mountain States include Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
"One of the biggest reasons for this decline appears to be poor timing," explained AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough. "Last year we experienced the most Labor Day travelers this decade largely because many children were not yet back in school and families took the opportunity to take a final summer vacation. This year, Labor Day week falls one week later, and schools are already back in session."
While overall travel numbers are down significantly, the situation is not as grim as it initially appears. Last year's high numbers make this year's decline appear more dramatic. In fact, AAA expects this upcoming Labor Day weekend will be the third busiest of this decade.
AAA expects over 2 million people in the Mountain States will travel by motor vehicle over the weekend, representing an 3.7 percent decrease from last year. About 100,000 are predicted to travel by air, a decrease of 13.1 percent from last year. Nearly 400,000 state residents are expected to travel by other modes of transportation such as boats or trains. That number is down by 13.4 percent compared to last year.
Nationally, AAA expects 39.1 million people to travel 50 miles or more over the four-day weekend, a 13.3 percent decrease from last year.
"Despite the dampened enthusiasm for travel, we are seeing a resilience in the travel industry during these troubled times, due in part to lower travel prices and somewhat improved consumer confidence," said Fairclough.
Airfares that are 17 percent lower on average over the Labor Day weekend are likely to entice air travelers. AAA Three Diamond and Two Diamond lodgings are expected to be 12 percent lower, with Mountain States travelers spending an average of $195 per night. Car rental rates are up about 7 percent. An average family of four in the Mountain States is projected to spend $867 dollars over the four-day weekend and will log an average of 759 miles roundtrip for the weekend.
As part of AAA's ongoing commitment to provide safety and protection to motorists, AAA's Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow for drinking drivers in Utah from 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 7 until 6:00 a.m. on Sept. 8 in Northern California, Nevada and Utah. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to five miles.
"Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,' and a truck will be on its way," said Fairclough. "Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the vehicle and driver to the driver's home."
If motorists do become stranded, AAA can be reached by calling 1-800-AAA-HELP (1-800-222-4357). Apple iPhone users can request emergency road service using AAA's new AAA Roadside app available for free from the iTunes App Store via an iPhone, or at www.itunes.com/appstore/. Please visit www.aaa.com/roadside for further details.
AAA's projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Travel is the nation's largest travel organization. AAA Travel offers trips, cruises, tours and vacation packages throughout the world. Call (888) 937-5523 for more information or visit us at your local AAA Travel office or online at www.aaa.com/travel.
AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to nearly 175,000 members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.
(Courtesy of AAA)