High gas prices hurting travel industry
High gas prices mean fewer summer trips
More than half of travelers will alter their summer travel plans – shorter trips or not leaving home at all – if gas prices continue to rise, according to a survey by U.S. Travel Association, a major industry trade organization
"If travelers are spending more on gas, they are spending less on hotels, attractions, shopping and restaurants, which could have a negative impact on our overall economy," said Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association.
The travel industry worries that gas prices could put a crimp in a resurgent travel industry that was hit by two years of travelers sitting on their wallets after the collapses of the housing market, high unemployment and a steep decline in stock market values. Travel is big business in the United States. Domestic and international travelers spent $758.7 billion in the U.S. in 2010, the last available figures according the U.S. Travel Association. Domestic travelers accounted for $655.6 billion, while foreign visitors spent $103.1 billion. Travel spending has been on the upswing after declines in 2008 and 2009. Travel by foreigners has been fueled in recent years by a weak dollar, making a U.S. trip more attractive. However, the travel industry has complained that strict visa rules that make it difficult for foreign visitors to come to the U.S. have suppressed demand.
The group found that 57 percent of travelers polled said they would consider curtailing their vacation and business travel if gas prices go up between .25 and $1.25.
And it's not just car travel. The same poll found that 43 percent of travelers said they would cut back on leisure trip flights because of high ticket prices, somewhat due to higher gas prices. Nineteen percent of business travelers said the same thing. In addition to higher gas prices, airfares have been rising as airlines have cut back on the number of flights and used smaller jets to keep flights fuller and ticket prices higher.
Looking ahead to November, half of travelers said their vote for president or congressional candidates would be influenced by their perception of how they are dealing with higher gas prices. The poll did not indicate what solutions travelers favored or whether they blamed Democrats or Republicans for the higher prices.
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