AAA Projects One in Three Coloradans to Travel This Holiday Season
Denver, December 13 – AAA Colorado projects 1.6 million Coloradans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, a 1.4% increase over the number of those who traveled last year. This marks the 4th consecutive year over year increase in Year-End Holiday travel. The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Coloradans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
AAA estimates the national average price of gasoline will slowly drop through the end of the year with the largest decreases in price on the West Coast and in the Rockies. National gas prices are projected to average between $3.20-3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day. Gas prices dropped about 50 cents a gallon on average from September through early December, but remain at record highs for this time of year. AAA does not expect gas prices to have a major impact on travel volume, but consumers could have more money to spend on holiday shopping, dining and entertainment if prices drop through December as expected.
Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel increases
Approximately 90 percent of Colorado travelers (1.4 million) plan to travel by automobile this holiday season. Air travel is expected to increase as seven percent of travelers or 118,000 Coloradans take to the skies. This is a four percent increase over last year.
Those traveling by air will find lower airfares according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. For the year-end holiday period the average lowest round-trip rate is $203 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, a three percent decrease from last year.
Hotel rates to increase slightly, car rental rates increase 41 percent
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, year-end holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase two percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $129 per night compared to $126 last year. Daily car rental rates will average $56, compared to $40 last year as car rental agencies decrease the number of vehicles available for rent.
Average travel distance increases
According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Coloradans during the holiday period is expected to be 1,038 miles, with 60 percent of travelers intending to travel more than 700 miles round trip.
Median spending down by nearly 10 percent; top activities are dining and spending time with loved ones
Median spending is expected to be $694, a 9.8 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended Colorado holiday travelers ($770) last year. Travelers will spend five percent less on transportation related expenses including fuel and five percent less on shopping at their destination.
Dining (61 percent) and spending time with family and friends are the most popular activities planned by travelers. It is not surprising that during the holiday season shopping is the third most popular activity with 48 percent expecting to shop. One-quarter (25 percent) of Colorado holiday travelers plan to sightsee during their trips and 32 percent plan to participate in night life.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2012/13 Year-end Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.
AAA Colorado has more than 560,000 members and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services, as well as member exclusive savings.