AAA won’t issue Memorial Day travel forecast for first time in 20 years

Six Mile Road in the heart of Gold Country provides a scenic drive through a canopy of trees in the town of Murphys, Calif., on May 2, 2017. In the time of coronavirus, more people are looking at car trips as opposed to flying. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
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By Donald Wood TravelPulse (TNS)

AAA Travel will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast for the first time in 20 years as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions.

While the annual forecast is expected to return next year, AAA revealed that anecdotal reports suggest fewer travelers will hit the road this year. The organization hopes to make travel projections for the late summer and fall, assuming states ease travel restrictions.

The current record for lowest travel volume came toward the end of the Great Recession on Memorial Day 2009 when nearly 31 million travelers hit the roads for the holiday weekend.

“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day Weekend — the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” AAA Travel senior vice president Paula Twidale said in a statement. “With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”

While the viral pandemic has marred the Memorial Day travel season, AAA officials revealed online bookings have been rising, showing signs that Americans are looking to get back on the road.

Preliminary data suggests travelers will stay domestic with mostly local and regional locations and road trips. In March, a AAA Travel survey found 90 percent of the 173 million Americans who had summer vacations on the books planned to take a U.S.-based vacation.

“The saying goes that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” Twidale said. “Americans are taking that first step toward their next journey from the comfort of their home by researching vacation opportunities and talking with travel agents. We are seeing that Americans are showing a preference and inspiration to explore all that our country has to offer as soon as it is safe to travel.”

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