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Nearly 1.2 million Michiganians will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, about 1 percent less than those who traveled one year ago. They join the 31.5 million Americans who will travel, a 2.4 percent decrease from last year. This year’s Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Sept. 1 to Monday, Sept. 5.
Most state travelers – an estimated 98 percent – will go by vehicle to enjoy “summer’s last hurrah,” with campgrounds, resort areas and lakes among the popular destinations. They join the 87 percent of travelers nationally who will go by vehicle. Travelers will find higher gas prices this holiday — in Michigan, gas averages $3.71 per gallon (as of Aug. 24), $1.02 more than last year.
“While travel will likely be down slightly because of economic uncertainty, we may see a last-minute increase in travel if recent drops in gas prices continue through Labor Day,” said Steve Wagner, AAA Michigan President. Based on a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans this holiday weekend is expected to be 608 miles, slightly less than one year ago (635 miles), while median spending is expected to be $702, largely unchanged from last year’s $697. Fuel and transportation costs combine for the largest share of holiday spending (27 percent), followed by accommodations (22 percent) and food and beverage costs (21 percent). Shopping, entertainment and recreation make up the remaining costs.
Air leisure travelers will account for some 1 percent of all travel in Michigan during the holiday weekend. Nationally, that number increases to eight percent. Trips by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft, will be taken by the remaining one percent of Michigan travelers, and five percent of travelers nationwide.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, weekend daily car rental rates are down seven percent with consumers paying an average of $43. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $148 per night compared to $139 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels will pay eight percent more at an average cost of $110 per night.
Michigan State Police report during last year’s Labor Day holiday period, 21 people died in 17 fatal crashes on roads across the state. Eleven of last year’s deaths were alcohol-related.
To help make this year’s Labor Day holiday period a safe one, AAA Michigan will once again partner with the Michigan State Police in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). Bright banners will be posted at various rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments. In addition, Operation C.A.R.E. volunteers will provide information about some of the major causes of deadly crashes and how to avoid them.
AAA’s 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. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2011 Labor Day holiday forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.
AAA Michigan offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 1.6 million members in Michigan. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the largest affiliation of AAA clubs in the Midwest, with approximately 4.1 million members in eight states. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation, a not-for-profit organization with more than 51 million members in the United States and Canada.