Summer Travel

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The number of Arizonans traveling over the Memorial Day weekend could reach post-recession highs. Nearly 733-thousand Arizonans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, an increase of nearly five percent. Michelle Donati-Grayman of AAA Arizona will talk about factors leading to the increased travel.

TED SIMONS: An improving economy and lower fuel prices suggest this summer's travel season could hit post-recession highs. Michelle Donati-Grayman of Triple-A Arizona joins us now to talk about the higher travel rates. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.


TED SIMONS: Not that I'm a genius or anything, but I got that information from you guys. You're thinking it could be pretty big summer for travel.

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: Triple-A is projecting 37.2million Americans to travel from home for the Memorial Day holiday. We're looking at an increase of about 5% on the state and nationwide levels. This is look took very healthy kickoff to the start of the summer travel season.

TED SIMONS: Low gas prices have to be a major factor.

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: Also as you mentioned increasing consumer confidence and low gas prices definitely a big factor. We anticipate that get majority of travelers, almost nine in ten, will be going by car. It's about 642,000 Arizonans getting on the road starting next Wednesday. A pretty big travel No. there. In terms of gas prices we have seen gas prices increase over the last month. They are up about 42 cents over the next month. The statewide average is 72cents per gallon. If you look at what we were paying this time last year,$3.50 a year ago today. There's still a pretty significant year over year savings of 75 cents per gallon.

TED SIMONS: Don't prices go up over the summer because of blends?

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: Leading up to the start of the summer travel season they do. There's a couple of different factors at play right now. We have increased demand, summer blends, something that we anticipate .Oil prices have been doing some interesting things. The market is very volatile right now. We saw prices bottom in the mid40 range, we bounded over 50,they have lately been testing the $60 range. Oil prices make up well over half the cost of a gallon of gasoline. Prices really have no choice about to you follow suit. The other big factor that has-been impacting the prices in Arizona particularly has been refinery issues. There are a number of issues taking place. Sometimes they impact Arizona, sometimes they don't depending on the refinery. You feel there is an incident that has been impacting Arizona price, the Exxon refinery in Torrence, California. There was some pretty Steph damage there. We don't have a date when it'll be fully operational. The lingering effects have affected Arizona gas prices.

TED SIMONS: Do we have any idea how they will be affected as the sum goes on?

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: As we move in to the start of the summer travel season, Triple-A predicts they will continue the upward trend. They should remain below year-ago levels. Once the refinery is fully operational and we get the summer travel season underway we'll start to see prices level off .Looking at where pricings are now compared to years past on Memorial Day we're leaking to Pay about a five-year low in terms of gas prices before you fill up and head out on that road trip.

TED SIMONS: Could we play touch and go with $3 a gallon by the end of the summer?

You may already have stations in Flagstaff that are above that three mark. If you're heading to California, one of the most popular destinations for Arizonans year-round, you're going to get taste of that $3 for fuel or even more than that. Be prepared for sticker shock there.

TED SIMONS: Before you go, Hotel, motel, rental cars, what are you seeing out there? In terms of costs a little bit of a mixed bag. The cost was lodging and rental cars and airfare is down. If you're flying and about61,000 Arizonans will be, you'll likely experience a little savings there. But if you rented a hotel room you paid a little more than than you did in 2014.

Airfare is lower because demand going down?

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: Demand is not necessarily down. You know, a number of things impact air travel so it could be potentially, you know, travelers book further out to take advantage of those cheaper flights. It really just depends, a number of factors at play when it comes to airfare.

TED SIMONS: I guess pent-up demand. A lot of folks have been holed up, let's go, I don't want to stay home this summer, let's get out of town.

MICHELLE DONATI-GRAYMAN: If you look at East Coast travel, they have stayed in all winter and they want to get out. We really like to kick off summer with a road trip. When you're saving 75 cents per gallon compared to last year, it's not a bad year to do so. If gas prices continue to remain at current levels, as long as it's not a significant increase this could be a really big summer for road trips.

TED SIMONS: Alright that's encouraging unless you're behind a bunch of folks also on the road. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

TED SIMONS: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon "hear about an international microwave conference being held in Phoenix. And meet the new interim director of the Scottsdale Museum of contemporary art at4:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon. "I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

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Michelle Donati-Grayman:AAA Arizona

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