AAA Projects Rise in Holiday Travel

AAA predicts more people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the upcoming year-end holidays, compared to a year ago. It is the largest projected increase for any major holiday this year.
AAA says 87.7 million Americans will be on the road — a 3.8 percent increase from the 84.5 million Americans who traveled during the same Christmas / New Year’s period one year ago.
AAA predicts the number of Oklahomans traveling 50 miles or more from home over the holiday period will total about 862,700, an increase of 8.2 percent over the same time last year.
Auto travel is expected to be 8.6 percent above 2008 levels, with 779,000 Oklahomans taking to the highway over the 12-day holiday period. Air travel is also predicted to be above Christmas / New Year’s, 2008, with 40,000 flying to holiday destinations this year, an increase of 7.4 percent.
The number of travelers by motor vehicle is expected to total 77.7 million in this year compared to 74.4 million last year, an increase of 4.4 percent. The number of those flying is expected be 4.2 million compared to 4.1 million in 2008, an increase of 2.9 percent. The number of those traveling by other means, including, trains, watercraft, buses and multiple-modes of transportation, is expected to top out at 5.8 million compared to 6.0 million last year, AAA said. Last year, the total number of travelers during the year-end holidays, 84.5 million, represented a decline of 4.7 percent from Christmas / New Year’s, 2007.
“More Americans traveling during the winter holidays is another sign consumers are continuing to grow more confident in their personal financial situations,” said AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai. “The moderate projected rise in the number of air travelers this holiday period is especially welcome since the airline industry has been hit especially hard by the recession.”
AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Lexington, Mass.-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. For purposes of this forecast the year-end holidays travel period is defined as trips that include travel of 50 miles or more away from home during the period from Wednesday, Dec. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 3.

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