Southern California will see a 7.8 percent increase in the number of residents who will travel over this Memorial Day holiday, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s holiday travel projections. About 2.5 million Southland residents are expected to take holiday getaways.
Among Southern California travelers, about 2.1 million, or 84 percent, will go by car to their destinations. That’s an increase of 8.3 percent from 2009. Air travel among Southland residents is projected to increase by 4.9 percent to 227,000 flyers, while travel by cruise, bus, train or other means will be up 5.6 percent to 173,000.
Statewide, nearly 4 million are expected to make Memorial Day getaways, also a 7.8 percent increase over last year. About 3.3 million will go by car, an 8.3 percent increase over last year, while almost 400,000 are expected to fly – a 4.9 percent increase.
Nationally, AAA is projecting the number of Americans traveling over the holiday weekend will increase 5.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 32.1 million travelers taking a trip away from home. Memorial Day auto travel nationwide is expected to increase by 5.8 percent to 28 million, while 2.15 million nationwide are expected to fly – almost the same number as last year.
Memorial Day travel in 2008 and 2009 suffered locally and nationally from the continued effects of the recession and increased unemployment, so the projected increase for this year represents a partial rebound for travel and tourism as the economy recovers.
“Our AAA Travel agents are seeing increased activity in the branches and an increased number of advance bookings for tours and cruises compared to this time last year,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “Consumers are still seeking more value for their travel dollar than prior to the recession, but the Memorial Day projections indicate that more of them may be taking long-postponed vacations.”
The top five Memorial Day destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a poll of the Auto Club’s AAA Travel agents, are:
1) San Diego
2) Las Vegas
3) Grand Canyon
4) San Francisco
5) Central Coast
The top cruise destination is Baja California, while the top air destination is Hawaii.
Although this Memorial Day weekend’s gas prices will be higher than this time last year, AAA travel projections do not indicate that gas prices are a big deterrent to travel this holiday. Prices may continue to drop as the holiday approaches in response to recent dramatic decreases in crude oil prices.
Because of numerous regional highway projects that are underway because of federal stimulus funding, the Auto Club advises travelers to check their planned route for closures along the way. Motorists can call the California Highway Information Number at (800) 427-7623 for interstate and state route lane closures and highway closures. The information is updated hourly.
AAA’s holiday travel projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm 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.