AAA Thanksgiving Travel

AAA projects that 38.4 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This is a 1.4 percent increase over last year when 37.8 million traveled.

The number of travelers by automobile is expected to be 33.2 million in 2009 compared to 32.5 million last year; an increase of 2.1 percent. The number of travelers by air is expected be 2.3 million compared to 2.5 million in 2008; a decline of 6.7 percent. The number of those traveling by “other” means, including, trains, watercraft, buses and multiple-modes of transportation, is expected to be 2.9 million compared to 2.8 million last year, an increase of 1.2 percent, AAA said.

According to AAA, last year Thanksgiving travel dropped a precipitous 25.2 percent in the wake of the ongoing housing and financial crisis. This year’s expected increase in travel reflects improved consumer confidence from one year ago, better financial market performance and a growing sense among many consumers that the worst of the global economic crisis is behind us, AAA said.

Thanksgiving travelers expect to spend approximately $718 per household this upcoming holiday weekend. With the main purpose of Thanksgiving holiday being a special meal with family and friends, it is not surprising that only 15.7 percent of spending will be for accommodations, while 32 percent will be for transportation. Food and beverage will absorb 21 percent of spending and shopping will account for 16 percent. Entertainment and recreation will account for 10 percent of spending on average.

Thanksgiving travelers will journey an average of 815 miles roundtrip this upcoming holiday weekend. More than one-third (37 percent) of travelers will travel 250 miles or less round trip. Slightly less than one-quarter (24 percent) of weekend travelers will log between 251 and 700 miles. And 38 percent will travel more than 700 miles round trip.

Tourism 2010 Forecasts

The U.S. Travel Association released their forecasts for the US tourism industry in 2010. According to their economist Suzanne Cook, Ph.D., the economy is officially expanding again.

Based on initial estimates, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent during the third quarter of 2009, slightly beating economists’ expectations. Real GDP growth has not been positive since the second quarter of 2008.  She stated that better economic performance is expected in the months ahead, but the recovery is likely to be quite weak in 2010.

For details see this press release.