New AAA Forecast Predicts Slight Increase In International Travel By Californians

(LOS ANGELES, May 2, 2008) – As part of AAA’s first-ever summer international travel forecast, the Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting that nearly four million Californians – 2.49 million of them from Southern California – are expected to take international trips in June, July or August. That’s a 1.8 percent expected increase compared to last summer.

Overseas travelers from California are expected to spend $5 million on their international travel this summer, compared to $4.8 million last year – an increase of 5.3 percent. The average spending per California international traveler is $1,267, while the average spending per U.S. international traveler is $1,220.

“Gas prices and economic conditions are no doubt a factor in people’s decisions to travel this year, but there is still a small increase expected in the number of Californians that will travel internationally this summer,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “At least some of that small increase may be a result of expected travel to the Summer Olympic Games in China, since many of our Olympic athletes are California residents.”

Texas is projected to experience the biggest growth in international travel among all large U.S. states this year – 4.7 percent. California’s 1.8 percent international travel growth is expected to be the lowest among the larger U.S. states, and the AAA forecast attributed that low growth to the housing market downturn in the Golden State.

The highest number of international trips by U.S. visitors will be to Mexico, followed by Canada, the Caribbean, Italy and the United Kingdom. China and India are expected to experience the biggest growth in U.S. visits compared to 2007, with travel to China expected to increase by 13.4 percent and India projected to increase by 13.1 percent.

AAA and the Auto Club are releasing their first-ever international travel projections for the summer this year. The study was conducted on behalf of AAA by Global Insight, an economic research firm. The report is based on an economic model that includes data about the state of the U.S. economy, domestic spending, foreign exchange rates, historic travel data, travel inflation and other factors.

Nationwide, the AAA international travel study is projecting that 25.1 million Americans will travel internationally this summer, which would be a 2.6 percent increase over the 24.5 million that were estimated to have traveled overseas last summer. American travelers will be spending $30.7 billion while traveling internationally during the months of June, July and August. American spending overseas will increase by 5.7 percent, primarily due to inflation and the weakness of the U.S. dollar compared to several major currencies.