Gas Prices, Travel Up for Memorial Day Weekend
Despite the ailing economy and gas prices rising more than 25 cents over the past month, Memorial Day highway travel is projected to increase 5 percent in the Carolinas over the number of actual travelers last year, according to AAA Carolinas.
An estimated 754,000 North Carolina and 369,000 South Carolina drivers are expected to hit the road beginning Friday while 60,000 in North Carolina and 32,000 in South Carolina are expected to fly.
"The desire to get away for the first major holiday of the summer season is overcoming the economic downturn and recent gas price spikes and bodes well for the ongoing recovery of the hospitality industry," said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.
Although the economy is struggling, the average gas price is still roughly $1.50 less than a year ago, leading over 83 percent of those traveling this holiday to choose automotive transportation.
The current average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.27 in North Carolina and $2.16 in South Carolina. Memorial Day 2008 gas prices topped $3.75 in North Carolina and $3.60 in South Carolina.
Promotional offers across the travel industry are also encouraging travel. Three diamond hotel rates are down 12 percent from last year, while car rental rates are down 3 percent.
"Our vacation services department has seen consumers traveling smarter this year," Parsons said. "Travelers are watching their budgets, looking for promotions, choosing accommodations that offer free breakfast or ones with kitchen facilities to cut down dining expenses."
The average price for flights originating in the Carolinas is $252 for a roundtrip ticket. AAA Carolinas reports the majority of air travel to the north is heading to New York, while those southern-bound travelers tend to be flying to Orlando this holiday weekend.
The current economic climate also means that people are less likely to take vacations overseas this summer and are, instead, choosing domestic destinations, often within reasonable driving distance.
The price per gallon of regular unleaded has risen 25 cents in North Carolina and South Carolina since the Easter holiday. This spike is much lower than in recent years.In 2008 and 2007, gas prices in North Carolina and South Carolina rose 50 cents between the Easter and Memorial Day holidays.
North Carolina's most expensive gas prices are in Asheville at $2.31 per gallon for self-serve unleaded, while the least expensive is in Winston-Salem at $2.24.
South Carolina's most expensive gas price average is in Myrtle Beach at $2.21 per gallon for self-serve unleaded. The least expensive is in Spartanburg at $2.14.
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