Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
An estimated 1.5 million Michiganians will travel during the 2008 Fourth of July holiday, according to a recent AAA survey of 8,500 U.S. residents.
Of this number, 1.1 million will travel by car and 110,000 will travel by air. The number of auto travelers in the Great Lakes region, including Michigan, is down 0.8 percent from last year and the number of air travelers is down 3.3 percent.
“While the numbers of travelers are a bit off from last year’s levels, it is important to note that there are still a significant number of Michiganians who plan to travel,” said Claire Lockley, vice president Travel for The Auto Club Group. “Clearly gas prices are continuing to take a toll on the traveler’s budget, but the travel industry is responding, as they have in the past, with special value priced offers, promotions and other incentives to get people traveling this holiday.”
Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices in Michigan averaging $4.18 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, $1.083 higher than last year at this time.
AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows some other vacation costs up from Fourth of July 2007, while others are unchanged. Nationwide, hotel rates for AAA 3 Diamond hotels are unchanged. Car rental rates are up 13 percent and airfares are up 13 percent.
For Michigan residents planning a summer vacation, the 10 most popular destinations are:
- Niagara Falls ON
- Chicago IL
- Myrtle Beach SC
- Nashville TN
- Washington DC
- Cleveland OH
- Mackinaw City MI
- Yellowstone National Park WY
- Toronto ON
- Traverse City MI
For the first time, two Michigan destinations have been ranked in the Top 10, signifying that more state residents are traveling in Michigan, staying closer to home.
Tourism in Michigan is a $15-billion-a-year industry, and the state remains one of the best travel values. According to the 2008 edition of AAA’s Annual Vacation Costs Survey, the recommended travel budget for two adults traveling together in Michigan is $211.19 per day for lodging and meals -- $33 less than the national average of $244 per day.
This year, the official 78-hour Independence Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Thursday (July 3), and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday (July 6). During last year’s 30-hour July Fourth holiday period, 4 people died in 4 fatal crashes on roads across the state. Two (50 percent) of last year’s deaths were alcohol-related. Of the 4 occupants killed, only one (25 percent) was wearing his or her safety belt.
This year, Michigan law enforcement agencies will focus extra attention on unbuckled motorists to make this the safest Independence Day on record. The Auto Club advises motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time to navigate construction areas on the state’s highways.
For traffic and detour information, motorists can call 1-800-411-4823. Or, before leaving, check the AAA Michigan Web site,www.aaatraffic.com
, for updated traffic information.
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