Undeterred by higher gasoline prices, a record 232 million Americans plan to hit the road during the summer vacation season that starts Memorial Day, travel industry executives said Thursday.
But that 2 percent increase in people planning to travel 100 miles or more from home also will see a change in vacation style since 1995."Last summer we talked upscale and lavish; this summer we are talking family and moderate economizing," said William Norman, president of the Travel Industry Association of America.
"The typical vacation will include more people per trip, longer trips and the same record level of spending as last summer," when the average vacation cost $1,076.
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Norman released results of the group's seventh annual summer vacation survey, a telephone poll of 1,500 adults conducted with the American Auto- mobile Association.
AAA Vice President Graeme Clarke said that, even though the price at the gasoline pump has spiraled 17 cents during the past three months to an average $1.30 a gallon for regular self-serve, "the good news is that prices may have peaked" and are only 11 cents above the price in May 1995.
"Whether you're traveling 100 miles or 1,000 miles this summer, the bottom-line difference adds just a few cents more to the overall travel cost," Clarke said, adding that the "real" cost of gasoline adjusted for inflation is the same now as it was in 1947.
The survey and a companion poll of AAA travel managers also found:
- Fifty-four percent of pleasure travelers will take their children with them, up 7 percent from a year ago. The longest summer vacation is planned for 8.5 nights away from home, up from 7.9 nights in 1995.
- Eighty percent of summer vacations - 187 million total - will be by car, truck or recreational vehicle, a 1 percent increase over last year. Another 39 million vacations will include air travel, a 5 percent increase fueled by discount carriers and fare wars.
- The top five domestic destinations for car trips this summer are: Orlando, Fla., for the seventh straight year; the Grand Canyon; Los Angeles-Anaheim; Williamsburg, Va., and San Diego. Top destination states are Florida, California, Hawaii and Nevada, with Tennessee and Washington state also registering near the top for the first time.
- Other "hot spot" destinations are Atlanta, with 2 million visitors expected for the Summer Olympics; Cleveland, with its new rock 'n' roll museum and downtown Indiaation.
- A family of four can expect to spend $193 a day on average for meals and lodging, the same as last year.
- The three-day Memorial Day weekend that gets under way Saturday will see 30.4 million Americans traveling 100 miles or more from home, 26.7 million by car, truck or RV and 3.7 million by plane, train or bus.