Summer Travel Expected to Hit Record Numbers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite rising prices, Americans will be traveling in record numbers this summer, with Florida, California, Nevada and New York the top preferred destinations, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA).

"Every sector of the travel industry will be up, up, up," said Dr. Suzanne Cook, TIA's senior vice president of research. "The momentum in travel recovery that began in earnest last year is continuing into the summer with a 2.3% increase in leisure travel. That means that Americans will take 328 million leisure person-trips during June, July and August 2005."

A person-trip is one person traveling 50+ miles, one-way, away from home.

While travel prices are up in the first three months of 2005, this will not discourage Americans from taking trips. But they will be looking for deals and ways to economize without giving up their summer vacations.

"Planes will be full this summer as Americans return to the skies," Cook said. Air travel continues its strong recovery, with volume expected to increase 4% this summer. Despite high gas prices, RV travel is expected to remain strong this summer after experiencing double-digit increases year after year since 9/11.

While the number of trips is up, the number of nights away from home continues to decline from 7.6 nights last summer to 7 nights this summer on travelers' longest leisure trip.

Travelers plan on spending an average of $1,019 on their longest leisure trip this summer, a decrease of 7% from summer 2004 ($1,101). "Again, what we see here is a trend to take more trips during the year of shorter duration. So while the spending per trip is down, the number of trips is up," Cook said.

Three out of four Americans plan to visit friends and relatives this summer. Two-thirds will be at a beach or visiting small towns and rural areas. Over a third will be traveling with children.

Many trips will include children this summer, with 37% of travelers taking kids on their longest trip. Six percent will include a grandchild.

Traveling with a spouse is also popular (55%), as is traveling with other family members (19%) and traveling with friends (13%). Seven percent will travel with their parents and 8% will travel solo.

The top three planned activities are visiting friends and relatives (75%), going to a beach or lake (70%) and visiting small towns or rural areas (64%).

Rounding out the top ten summer traveler activities are: visiting cities/urban areas (54%), visiting national or state parks (47%), visiting historic sites (41%), camping, hiking or climbing (38%), fishing (36%), attending a family reunion (35%), or attending performing arts events (34%)

What else will summer travelers be doing? One-third plan on visiting museums (33%), theme parks (31%), gambling casinos (26%) or attending cultural events such as ethnic festivals (24%).

About 17% of summer travelers plan to use an RV, while 16% intend to enjoy an all-inclusive resort. Sixteen percent plan on traveling outside the U.S., and 10% said they plan to take a cruise.

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