AAA and Travel

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The July Fourth weekend and Arizonan’s travel.

Ted Simons: The July fourth holiday weekend is just about here. That means a lot of Arizonans will be heading out of town. I recently talked to Linda Gorman of Arizona AAA about the weekend's travel forecast.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Linda Gorman: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Travel numbers, what are you looking at?

Linda Gorman: Across the nation, looking to see 39 million travelers hitting the roads or skies for the upcoming fourth of July holiday. It's a 2.5% decline. Arizona numbers seeing a bigger guideline. 791,000 Arizonans, 3% drop.

Ted Simons: Why the drop?

Linda Gorman: A couple things, the economy is having an impact. And gas prices. So gas prices are about 81 cents more per gallon than last year so motorists have been faced with week after week, even though prices dropped a bit lately, they're still higher last year.

Ted Simons: Motor vehicle trips down?

Linda Gorman: They still remain the dominant mode of travel. In most family, about 78% of the people are going to be traveling by car, but that's a drop of about 6%.

Ted Simons: Who is traveling this summer, this holiday weekend?

Linda Gorman: You tend to think of the fourth of July as a family holiday. But Arizona, we're seeing solo travelers and comprised of just two adults. More than any other part of the country, really smaller composition and we think that's attributing to the drop in road travel and increase in air travel.

Ted Simons: Why do you think that -- is it just families -- do you think the economy is the factor. The bigger the family, the more expensive?

Linda Gorman: I think so, and some families may have taken their vacations earlier. Or waiting to see if prices drop later in the summer and given the transient nature of Arizona, a lot of people aren't from here and taking advantage of the opportunity to fly home to see friends and family.

Ted Simons: Fewer family vacations mean more solo and two-adult vacation vacations and those things?

Linda Gorman: One and two people, those are the type of people that decide to fly. It can be more economical and that's why we're seeing probably this jump in air travel. As a matter of fact, about 12% of travelers are flying. That's a 33% increase over last year.

Ted Simons: That's an awful lot. Do we see trending like this in previous years?

Linda Gorman: 2010 was really the first resurgence since the recession where we saw a huge jump in travel since really 2007. The good news, we're not seeing an increase in year, but haven't lost most of the gains we experienced last year. No, to see that jump in air travel is pretty unusual.

Ted Simons: Higher demand meaning higher air travel prices.

Linda Gorman: Yes, prices across the board, unfortunately, up for travel. So anywhere from 3% to 11%. Depending upon whether you're renting a car, the hotel or airfare.
Ted Simons: Airfare is up 11% up. And even rental cars up?

Linda Gorman: About 5%, hotels about 3%, the costs are up in terms of last year, but interestingly enough, Arizonans are still spending more than the rest of the country, in fact, about $1,100 for the fourth of July vacation which is higher than rest of the country and higher last year.

Ted Simons: That doesn't make sense because our economy in many ways is worse than other parts of the country. What do you attribute this to?

Linda Gorman: What that may -- the reason that might be a factor, if you look at the number of miles people are traveling, if you look at Arizonans, they're traveling farther and so our survey show one out of every four Arizonans is going 1500-miles at least round trip. It's a big vacation. Speaks to the higher air travel and higher expense.

Ted Simons: As far as the research, I love it when you come on and give us this information, how do you -- where do you get this research and who does it.

Linda Gorman: We partner with global insight. It conducts travel data and all of our research for our major holidays, standard phone interviews and ask people when they're traveling and how far. And we consider the travel period being the five days surgery surrounding that holiday. We consider traveling anything 50-miles or more away from home.

Ted Simons: The increase in air travel and the decrease in other forms of draft. What are you seeing for -- you seeing come Labor Day. When the fourth of July did this, Labor Day did this and the points in between were thus.

Linda Gorman: Labor Day was -- Arizona is a unique situation, in our parts of the country, kids are still out of school Labor Day and that's typically not the case in Arizona. Arizona's different so we tend to see fewer travelers traveling over Labor Day than the other holidays because families are hesitant to take kids away from school and stay closer to home and even with gas prices falling, they're going to be higher than Labor Day and people hold back and wait and see what happens with gas and gas prices for the rest of the year or if they travel, they may stay close to homeland.

Ted Simons: We've had a lot of wildfires going on in Arizona and in areas that folks like this visit as far as vacations are concerned. Are you seeing fallout? Canceled vacations, event, trips, the whole nine yards.

Linda Gorman: We're seeing an increase in calls. People call saying, hey, I'm planning on camping in this forest area or driving through this area, what's he closed? They see information in the news about highways and campgrounds closed. We're able to provide that information for them so they know, to either alter their trip plans or pick another destination where they can camp and enjoy their fun.

Ted Simons: Good Information. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Linda Gorman: Thanks for having me.

Linda Gorman: Arizona AAA;

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