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WINTER SENDS CONFUSING ECONOMIC SIGNALS BUT MORE AMERICANS PLAN TO TRAVEL

 LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- American travelers will be taking 3 percent more vacation trips this winter despite mixed economic signals, the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) said today.
 According to TIA, travelers are expected to take 133 million vacation person-trips this winter (December, January and February) -- an increase from last winter. However, the indicators behind this forecast are mixed. Most economic factors, consumer spending patterns and travel industry experts' outlooks are all more positive this year than last. But, on the negative side, job growth is slow, consumer confidence is still depressed, travel's performance this year has improved but is still generally weak, consumer intentions to travel are down and accelerated spending on durables is providing competition for the consumer's discretionary dollar. (A person-trip is one person traveling 100 miles or more away from home.)
 Most of these 133 million travelers will be traveling by auto, truck, or RV this winter. However, due to the cold weather, a greater percentage of travelers will be traveling by air than do during the summer months. Auto travel, which will account for 76 percent of all winter vacation trips, will rise 2.5 percent to 100.5 million person- trips. Twenty-one percent of winter travel will be by air and the remaining 3 percent by train, bus or boat. In the summer, 82 percent of travel was taken by auto.
 Noting auto travel's popularity, Graeme Clarke, vice president, AAA, Travel, Marketing & Financial Services, observed: "Vacations by auto remain a very good bargain. Auto vacation costs have climbed only 3 percent the past two years ... the smallest increase in nearly 30 years."
 Clarke cited three reasons for the modest rise in cost: "A low rate of inflation ... the continued slump in the lodging industry ... and lower gasoline prices."
 "Overall, the picture for this winter is best described as confusing in the short term, but potentially quite positive over the long haul," said Robert Dickinson, national chairman, TIA, and president, Carnival Cruise Lines.
 He continued: "The explanation for this winter outlook lies in the economic environment of the mid-1980s when consumers began to satisfy a pent-up demand for travel following the economic recession that ended in 1983. I believe a rebound in travel spending now will parallel the current economic recovery similar to what we experienced in the mid-80s -- at a smaller rate of increase and over a longer period of time."
 AAA also released a recent survey of its travel counselors which shows the five most popular winter destinations for its members will be: Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix; Los Angeles/Anaheim, Calif.; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; and New York.
 Internationally, the most requested destinations for air travel, according to AAA, are: London; Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Nassau, Bahamas.
 Additionally, TIA's annual Winter Travel Forecast shows:
 -- Business travel this winter is expected to grow 4 percent with a total of 62 million business person-trips being taken.
 -- Reflecting the holiday season, visiting friends and relatives will be the most popular vacation activity, now planned by 72 percent of those likely to take a pleasure/vacation trip this winter.
 -- The average length of a winter vacation trip will be 4.1 nights, slightly shorter than winter 1992-93.
 -- Twenty-five percent of winter vacation travelers have budgeted more than $1,000 for their trips. The average vacation budget is $907 for winter travel.
 TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $380 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to promote travel to and within the United States.
 AAA is the not-for-profit federation of 137 motor clubs with more than 1,000 offices providing its members in the United States and Canada with travel, insurance, financial and auto-related services.
 -0- 12/2/93
 /CONTACT: Shawn Flaherty of the Travel Industry Association, 202-861-6355, or Jerry Cheske of the American Automobile Association, 407-444-8000/


CO: Travel Industry Association; American Automobile Association ST: California IN: LEI SU: ECO

IH-KD -- DC021 -- 9894 12/02/93 14:37 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 2, 1993
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