Gas prices could deter travel

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Virginia's July 4 holiday travel forecast mirrors national trend

Gas prices are predicted to deter some Virginians from traveling this Fourth of July holiday weekend, with close to 1.1 million expected to celebrate Independence Day with a trip of 50 miles or more from home.
A decrease of about 2.4 percent in the number of travelers is expected from last year’s holiday.
The July 2010 numbers represented a robust increase in the number of Virginian’s traveling for Fourth of July, said Martha Meade of the American Automobile Association.
“This year’s holiday forecast remains strong despite the impact of sustained high gas prices. With current pump prices nearly $1 more this year compared to last, fewer Virginians will be hitting the roads this year.”
AAA continues to see strong resiliency among the traveling public as people head out to enjoy holidays. However, “for the second holiday in a row, we are seeing a change in who is traveling, with fewer traveling by car and many more traveling by air due to the impact of the recession and gas prices on those in the lower income brackets,” Meade said.
Automobile travel is expected to be down by 3.5% (943,000 forecasted auto travelers in Virginia), while air travel will rise an estimated 21.5 percent, or by nearly 15,400 people.
“Although gas prices are impacting the average travel distance, median spending will actually be up this year due to the changing profile of the holiday traveler,” Meade said. “The average distance traveled by Americans during the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to be 573 miles, seven percent less than last year, yet median spending is expected to be $807, an increase of 25 percent from $644 last year.”
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight of Boston.