Mountain states projected to exceed national year-end travel trends, says AAA Colorado
December 23, 2011
A new national survey sponsored by AAA Colorado forecasts that 31.5 percent of the Mountain states population will travel during the Year-End holidays with 7.13 million people traveling 50 miles or more from home. This is a 2.2 percent increase over Year-End travel one year ago. During the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Mountain states travel increased 4.1 percent over one year ago. Memorial Day travel was statistically flat while Independence Day and Labor Day travel experienced decreases of 2.4 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. The Mountain region includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
Nationally, 91.9 million Americans will travel between Friday, December 23 and Monday, January 2, a 1.4 percent increase. The 11-day Year-End holiday period is the longest holiday travel season of the year, affording many more Americans time to visit family or take vacations.
Automobile is top transportation choice, increases 3.4 percent
Approximately 6.41 million Mountain states residents (90 percent of holiday travelers) plan to take to the roadways this Year-End holiday travel season, a 2.1 percent increase compared to 2010-11. In Colorado the current average price for regular unleaded gasoline is approximately $3.22 per gallon, about 49 cents more than one year ago. However, the average price is 33 cents less that this year’s peak price of $3.77 on May 18 and is 5 cents lower than the current National average price of $3.27.
Air travel down nearly 11 percent
About 510,000 Mountain states leisure travelers (two percent of holiday travelers) will fly during the Year-End holiday travel period, a 10.7 percent decrease from 2010-11. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Year-End holiday airfares are expected to be 21 percent higher than last year with an average lowest round-trip rate of $210 for the top 40 U.S. air routes.
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Hotel rates increase; car rental rates decrease
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond or mid-range lodgings are expected to increase a modest one percent from last year with travelers spending an average of $126 per night compared to $125 one year ago. Daily car rental rates are $40 on average, a 21 percent decrease from one year ago and the lowest seen in the past five years.
Travel distance decreases; median spending increases
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Year-End holiday travel season is expected to be 726 miles, a decline from 2010-11 when travelers planned to log an average of 1,052 miles.
Median spending is expected to be $718, which is a three percent increase from $694 last year. Fuel and transportation costs combine to consume the largest share of holiday spending (32 percent), followed by shopping and food and beverages (tied at 19 percent). Other expenditures include accommodations (15 percent), entertainment and recreation (12 percent), and other costs (four percent).
AAA Colorado’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.