Travel surge expected for July 4 weekend

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A surge in Fourth of July travel is expected this weekend compared to last year's slump, driven by signs of life in the economy, according to the motorist group AAA. But the impact of the Gulf oil spill on coastal tourism in the region is unclear.

AAA projects that 34.9 million Americans will travel 100 miles or more during the Independence Day weekend, a jump of 17.1% from last year's 29.8 million travelers.

"The unusually weak Fourth of July travel performance in 2009, the sustained economic recovery and substantially improved travel sentiment all suggest that Fourth of July travel will enjoy a large increase this year," the travel group said in a statement.

Last year, the weak economy sent travel down more than 20% during the Independence Day weekend, to 29.8 million travelers from 37.8 million in 2008. AAA described this decline as "much larger" than originally anticipated. For 2010, the travel group expects travel volume to pull itself out of last year's trough.

"We now know that overall travel began to recover in the fourth quarter of 2009," said AAA.

Driving will be the largest component of this, with 31.4 million Americans expected to travel by automobile, a 17.7% increase over last year, said AAA. Gas prices, averaging about $2.75 per gallon nationwide on Friday, are similar to last year but cheaper than the $4 average of 2008, the group added.

AAA added one caveat: the impact on travel volume from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is difficult to gauge.

"As oil continues to spill into the Gulf and the associated economic and environmental costs rise, those who have planned trips to beaches in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and West Florida are anxious about arriving at a clean beach," said AAA. "It is difficult to estimate the number of cancellations that will occur or the decrease in travel due to the oil spill during the Fourth of July weekend. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,979.13 59.54 0.35%
Nasdaq 4,526.48 -1.03 -0.02%
S&P 500 1,986.51 4.91 0.25%
Treasuries 2.43 0.02 0.87%
Data as of 6:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.07 0.45%
Apple Inc 100.57 0.04 0.04%
General Electric Co 26.36 0.31 1.19%
Intel Corp 34.50 0.16 0.47%
Staples Inc 11.32 -0.30 -2.58%
Data as of Aug 20

Sections

Russian officials have shut four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow, including the first to open in the city nearly 25 years ago at the end of the Cold War. More

Median income is up 3.8% since 2011, though it's still down since the economic recovery began in 2009. More

Small business owners say the economy is still their biggest challenge, which keeps them from expanding and hiring, according to a CNNMoney-Manta survey. More

This month, Delaware became the first state to pass a law giving heirs the right to access the online accounts and assets of someone who has passed away. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.