Auto group expects holiday travel to decline across the US |

Auto group expects holiday travel to decline across the US

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Despite the lowest gas prices in years, the American Automobile Association (AAA) expects Christmas travel to decrease for the first time in three years, by 2.1 percent compared to 2007.

Holiday travel in the Western region, including Colorado, is expected to be down 1.9 percent, with 15.5 million residents traveling more than 50 miles from home. However, AAA Colorado expects travel by automobile will be down 1.5 percent from 2007 despite gas prices being, on average, $1.27 less than the same time last year.

Colorado’s average price per gallon of regular unleaded on Dec. 17 is $1.60, according to AAA.

AAA Colorado forecasts 63.9 million Americans, 21 percent of the national population, are expected to travel over the Christmas holiday. The number of Americans expected to travel this year is the third largest amount since 2000. A record high number of travelers at 65.3 million was recorded for 2007, and 2006 had 64.7 million.

With Christmas falling on Thursday, AAA projects that travelers are looking forward to starting their holiday trip early. Nearly one-third of travelers said they expect to begin their holiday travels on or before Sunday, Dec. 21. Travelers should see a brief slowdown on Monday, but then pick up again on Tuesday with 13 percent traveling, and a peak of 17 percent of travelers on Christmas Eve.

Air travel is expected to decline 6.7 percent in the Western region and 8.5 percent nationwide. But that influenced airfares to also decline 9 percent for Christmas week compared to 2007.

Nationwide, travelers can also expect lower hotel rates with 64 percent of Christmas travelers planning to stay in the home of friends or family.

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