Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 15,578.76 -335.98 -2.11%
Nasdaq 4,239.65 -43.94 -1.03%
S&P 500 1,819.69 -32.17 -1.74%
Treasuries 1.63 -0.08 -4.52%
Data as of 2:10pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 11.15 -0.83 -6.93%
Cisco Systems Inc 24.70 2.19 9.73%
General Electric Co 27.41 -0.89 -3.15%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 1.71 0.01 0.59%
Apple Inc 93.23 -1.04 -1.10%
Data as of 1:55pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

It's not easy being a fan of high-tech stocks this year. Tesla, Netflix and Amazon have all plunged in the past few weeks. But analysts at a firm that runs several tech stock funds are still bullish ... and they're buying more. More

The crash in oil prices has caused a dramatic spike in the number of bankruptcies by oil and natural gas companies. Last year alone there were 67 companies that filed for bankruptcy. More

Twitter's stock is sinking fast after the company reported that it lost customers in the fourth quarter of 2015. More

STEM3 Academy was started specifically for students with autism, ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. Its STEM-based curriculum is breaking through barriers. More

GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio wants some radical changes to the tax code. But the numbers don't add up, according to a new analysis. More