Year-End Holiday Travel Figures Forecasted to be Four Percent Greater than Historic Average and within Less than 900 of the Decade High Mark
RICHMOND, VA (Tuesday, December 18, 2012) – AAA projects that nearly 2.7 million Virginians will travel 50 miles or more from home for the 2012 year-end holiday season (Saturday, December 22 to Tuesday, January 1), a very slight statistical increase of just four tenths of a percentage point from last year, or essentially flat. Virginia’s projected number of travelers this year-end is only about 900 individuals shy of the decade high mark seen in the Commonwealth during the 2010/2011 season and is four percent higher than the overall average number for the past ten years.
“The fact that the number of Virginians expected to travel this year-end exceeds the decade high average by four percent illustrates the importance of being with loved ones for the holidays, regardless of a struggling economy,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The recovery rate of the number of holiday travelers has once again out-paced the economic recovery.”
BY CAR / GAS PRICES: As gas prices have been on a steady decline and are expected to continue this downward trend, road trips continue to make up the bulk of holiday travel. Over 2.4 million Virginians, or 90 percent of holiday travelers, will hit the roads later this week. Gas prices in Virginia today average $3.11, just four cents lower than this day last year.
Gas Prices as of December 18, 2012, for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline:
Price Last Month
Price Last Year
AIR: Air travel in Virginia is expected to increase 3.2 percent, as almost 151,000 (150,715) holiday travelers will take to the skies. 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.
AVERAGE TRAVEL DISTANCE INCREASES: According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during holiday period is expected to be 760 miles, further than last year when travelers planned to log 726 miles. “This increase is likely due to the increased number of airline trips which are often much farther than those taken on the road,” Meade added.
MEDIAN SPENDING UP NEARLY SIX PERCENT: Median spending is expected to be $759, a six percent increase compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($718) in 2011.
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 Mid-Atlantic serves nearly 808,000 members in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the nation’s fifth largest auto club with nearly 4 million members in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 60-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information on AAA Mid-Atlantic, please visit our web site at www.AAA.com. Persons wanting to comment on this issue can go to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Community pages at http://www.AAA.com/community and post comments. The organization is anxious to hear from travelers with their thoughts on this subject and others.
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Martha Mitchell Meade
Phone: (804) 323-6510 Pager: (804) 543-7190
Contact: Windy VanCuren
Phone: (804) 323-6535 Pager: (804) 921-6198