Fall travel surveys show a marked disconnect between the Labor Day holiday weekend and the rest of the fall travel season’s numbers. Compared to last year, anticipated Labor Day figures are down while expected fall travel is much more upbeat.
According to the AAA, 31.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend. This is a 2.4 percent decrease from 2010, and that’s without factoring in the impact of Hurricane Irene.
Travel providers in the Northeast are reporting significant cancellations for Labor Day from those affected and still dealing with flooding and cleanups in Irene’s wake.
According to a TripAdvisor survey published before Irene hit the East Coast, 28 percent of travelers intend to travel for Labor Day weekend this year, same as last year.
Sixty percent of those traveling expect to drive, and 34 percent plan to fly. Twenty-six percent will take outdoor trips, 24 percent will take city escapes and another 24 percent will take beach trips.
“AAA is projecting a decrease in the number of Labor Day travelers as some Americans react to recent economic uncertainty and increasing air fares,” said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services. “While automobile travel is expected to increase slightly, if recent declines in gasoline prices continue through Labor Day, we could see an increase in last-minute holiday weekend travel.”
The fall travel numbers are a lot more optimistic. According to the annual Travel Leaders fall travel trends survey, 55.3 percent of its 443 agents responded that fall bookings are higher compared to last year’s.
When asked for a personal outlook on business for the remainder of 2011, an overwhelming 71.1 percent of respondents say that they were optimistic, while 20.5 percent are neutral about it.
Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, said, “We are encouraged that Americans—whether for business or leisure—are continuing to travel, and more frequently than a year ago despite the uncertainty we’ve seen recently in our country’s economic indicators.”
The TripAdvisor survey similarly shows a lot of pent-up optimism for fall travel, with 86 percent of travelers planning leisure trips this fall, compared to 74 percent that say they traveled for fun last autumn.
Thirty-seven percent of travelers in the TripAdvisor survey say they intend to spend more than they did last fall on leisure trips, while 46 percent plan to spend about the same amount. Nearly half (48 percent) feel the fall is the most economical season to travel.
The top fall destinations in the TripAdvisor survey are New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago and San Francisco. Travel Leaders agents indicate their most booked fall destinations are Las Vegas, Orlando, Honolulu, New York City and Kahului (Maui), Hawaii.
Photo – Walter Siegmund