Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
An estimated 1.1 million Michiganians will travel during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, launching the start of the 2007 summer travel season, says AAA Michigan.
According to a national survey conducted for AAA by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), more Midwest travelers are opting to drive instead of fly this Memorial holiday, despite high gas prices.
“High gas prices and increased vacation costs won’t deter Americans from traveling this Memorial Day,” said Claire Lockley, vice president of Travel for The Auto Club Group (ACG). “Many families will travel closer to home, they will travel for fewer days and will save money by staying in less expensive hotels and eating in less expensive restaurants, but they will continue to take vacations and plan getaways.”
As of May 14, the statewide average for self-serve, regular gasoline was $3.271 – 37.1 cents more per gallon than a year ago.
Travelers will get a bit of a break this year: AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows flights over the holiday weekend averaging 5 percent less this year than last year, with the average flight costing $166.
Car rental rates are expected to fall 16 percent from last year, with renters paying an average of $31, almost $6 less than last year. Hotel rates, however, will be up about 13 percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $174 per night at AAA 3 Diamond hotels.
For Midwest residents planning a summer vacation, the 10 most popular destinations are:
1) Yellowstone National Park WY
2) Las Vegas NV
3) Denver CO
4) Branson MO
5) St. Louis MO
6) Washington DC
7) Myrtle Beach SC
8) Niagara Falls ON
9) Chicago IL
10) Nashville TN
AAA’s national survey contacted 1,500 U.S. residents. Respondents provided these insights into Memorial Day travel:
- The greatest number of Memorial Day auto travelers will originate in the West with 7.6 million travelers, followed by the Southeast with 6.9 million; Midwest, 6.8 million; Northeast, 6.0 million; and Great Lakes, 4.8 million.
- The West is expected to produce the largest number of air travelers with 1.4 million, followed by the Midwest with 1.2 million; Southeast, 900,000; Northeast, 500,000; and Great Lakes, 400,000.
- Many American households will be traveling with their children. In fact, 57 percent of households with children under 18 will bring them along on their Memorial Day vacation this year nationwide.
- Travelers from the Midwest region are most likely to travel with their children, with 66.6 percent saying they would be bringing their kids along. The Southeast follows close behind with 60 percent traveling with kids under 18. Fifty four percent of parents in the Northeast will travel with their children, while 53 percent of parents in the West say the same. The lowest percentage of families traveling with kids under 18 will be from the Great Lakes region, with 50 percent.
The 78-hour Memorial Day weekend officially begins: 6 p.m., Friday, May 25 and ends 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 28. During Memorial Day weekend in 2006, 18 people were killed in 17 fatal crashes in Michigan, an increase from the 15 killed in 11 fatal crashes in 2005. Five of last year’s victims were belted. Alcohol was a factor in one of the fatal crashes.
This year, Michigan law enforcement agencies will continue an ambitious program to make this the safest Memorial Day on record by increasing traffic patrols to strictly enforce safety belt laws. The Auto Club advises motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time to navigate construction areas on the state’s highways.
For traffic and detour information, motorists can call 1-800-AAA-MICH (222-6424). Or, before leaving, check the AAA Michigan Web site, www.aaatraffic.com, for updated traffic information.
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AAA Travel is the largest leisure travel agency in North America. It is part of the national AAA federation, a not-for-profit organization with more than 50 million members in the United States and Canada. There are more than 300 AAA travel agencies affiliated with the Auto Club Group (ACG), the largest affiliation of AAA clubs in the Midwest, with approximately 4.1 million members in eight states.