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High Gas Prices Won’t Stop Americans From Traveling This Summer

May 20, 2004

High Gas Prices Won’t Stop Americans From Traveling This Summer
May 20, 2004 – According to recent surveys, including those put out by AAA and the Travel Industry Association of America, high gas prices won’t stop travelers this Memorial Day weekend or this summer.

"We don’t think gas prices in and of themselves are going to keep people at home," said Suzanne Cook, vice president of research for TIA.

AAA reports nearly 37 million will vacation during this Memorial Day weekend, a 3.6 percent increase from last year. In a separate survey, TIA stated that they expect that summer travel in general will increase 3.2 percent this year.

"Record high gas prices won’t keep Americans from traveling this holiday," Sandra Hughes, AAA’s vice president, said in a statement. "Despite gas prices that are nearly 50 cents per gallon higher than they were a year ago, record numbers of travelers will hit the highways."

Some say that higher gas prices also could cause travelers to take shorter trips closer to home or use more fuel-efficient vehicles, but the prices won’t be that much of a drag on motorists, said Mark Brown, executive vice president at AAA Travel.

"For people taking vacations, we’re only talking about an extra $20 or $40," Brown said. "If oil gets to $50 a barrel and gas prices get to the high end of two dollars, you’ll see changes in travel behavior."

Clearly, industry officials believe that pent-up demand and consumer confidence will trump high prices this summer. "In the spring of 2003, many travelers delayed making vacation plans due to the Iraq war," said AAA’s Hughes. "This year, travelers have largely ignored some higher costs in their desire to return to their traveling ways."

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