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More holiday travelers expected this year as economy improves

Posted: December 17, 2012 4:29 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2012 4:29 p.m.

Nearly 7.3 million Southern Californians are expected to travel this holiday season, up 1.8 percent from the year before, officials with the Automobile Club of Southern California said Monday.

Of those taking trips 50 miles or greater, 88 percent of travelers, or 6.5 million, will travel by car to their destinations, a 1.4 percent increase over last year.

More than 590,000 Southern California residents are expected to fly, which is a 4.4 increase. And 248,000 people are expected to travel by other means.

With gas prices dropping, AAA said local drivers could actually be paying less to fuel up for their holiday trips than they did in 2011.

In a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, the most popular travel destinations for those living in Southern California are Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, and the Central Coast to areas like Santa Barbara and Monterey.

“As a result of the improving economy, AAA is projecting an increase in travelers’ budgets as well as in the number of travelers,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

Travelers on the West Coast will be spending a projected average of more than $1,000 per household on their end-of-year holiday trips, which is an increase of nearly 6 percent over 2011.

Spending on lodging, food and recreation/entertainment is expected to increase compared to last year, she said.



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