July 4 travel projections akin to '07

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— AAA projects that 10.48 million people in the western states (including Colorado) will travel 50 or more miles away from home for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This is a decrease of only .8 percent from the 10.57 million who traveled in 2007.

Nationally, AAA projects 40.45 million Americans will travel during the Independence Day holiday weekend, down 1.3 percent from the 41 million who traveled last year.

"The Fourth of July weekend is typically one of the busiest travel holidays of the year," said Sandra Barnes, AAA Colorado's Director of Travel Services. "We anticipate this year to be no different, with many Colorado travelers planning to celebrate the Fourth of July away from home."

Air, hotel and rental car sales with AAA Colorado's travel agency have increased this year for travel between July 4 and July 6.

"Our travel booking volume supports our belief that people are still traveling this summer," Barnes said. "Many travelers are adjusting their travel plans by taking shorter vacations and staying closer to home."

Compared to last year, AAA's 2008 Leisure Travel Index for Fourth of July travel shows:

• Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond-rated hotels are down 14 percent in Denver and virtually unchanged nationally compared to last year.

• Rental rates for an intermediate car have increased an average of 12 percent nationally.

• The national average round-trip airfare rate is up 13 percent, from $178.08 to $201.55.

• The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Colorado is up 85 cents compared to last year. The average cost of filling a 15-gallon tank with regular unleaded in Colorado is $60 compared to $47.25 last year.

The five most popular out-of-state destinations for the Fourth of July, based on bookings through AAA Colorado, are Orlando (Disney World); Cancun, Mexico; Los Angeles; Seattle (summer cruises); and Las Vegas.

The five most popular in-state destinations are Denver, Colorado Springs, Durango, Grand Junction and Fort Collins.

Nationally, 85 percent of all holiday travelers are expected to travel by automobile, a 1.2 percent decrease from the 34.6 million people who drove to their holiday destinations last year. Eleven percent of holiday travelers plan to fly this holiday weekend, a 2.3 percent decrease from the 4.64 million who flew last year. The West is expected to have the largest number of air travelers with 1.78 million. About 1.7 million Americans intend to travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation.

Research for Fourth of July weekend holiday travel projections are derived from the Travel Industry Association's Holiday Travel Forecast Model.

The model was developed based on consumer travel intentions and TIA's quarterly travel forecast data. The travel intentions data are collected through an online survey of more than 2,000 adults nationwide, supplemented by an additional 5,000 Americans surveyed from the top 10 states of travel origin in the United States. Historical travel volume and other economic data such as GDP, disposable income, employment and travel costs (including fuel prices) also are incorporated into the model. Analysis of the data and the forecasts are produced by the Travel Industry Association, which conducts special research for AAA.

AAA Colorado has more than 525,000 members in Colorado and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, as well as member-exclusive savings.

AAA can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.

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