AAA: This year, July 4 travel to decline 1.9%


Travel in the U.S. during the July 4 holiday weekend will decline 1.9 percent from last year as the recession and high gasoline prices keep motorists off the highways, AAA said.

The number of people traveling at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home will drop to 37.1 million from 37.8 million in 2008, AAA, the nation’s largest motorist group, said in an annual outlook today. The 2008 total showed an 11 percent decline from 2007.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, has risen 65 percent this year, pulled higher by a rally in crude oil. The fuel fell 0.7 cent to $2.676 a gallon, AAA said today on its Web site. Prices for regular gasoline rose to a record $4.114 a gallon on July 17, 2008.

“You have fewer people going to work now and a bunch of price-conscious consumers who are looking for vacations closer to home,” said James Cordier, portfolio manager at in Tampa, Florida.

The airline industry, which will account for 5 percent of holiday travel, is expected to see a 4.9 percent rise in bookings over the weekend, partly because of declining airfares, AAA said in its report.

The motoring organization projects a 2.6 percent decline in auto trips to 32.6 million in 2009 from 33.4 million last year. AAA’s projections are based on research by IHS Global Insight of Lexington, Massachusetts.