From AAA Mid-Atlantic:
Towson, MD (December 18, 2009) – This Christmas/New Year’s holiday nearly 2.1 million (2,069,000) Marylanders, over a third (37 percent) of the state’s population will travel 50 miles or more roundtrip this Christmas/New Year’s holiday.
“The 2009 year-end holiday forecast reflects the largest number of Maryland travelers for any of the major holidays of this year,” said Ragina C. Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public & Government Affairs. “Additionally, it is the second highest number of local Christmas/New Year’s travelers we’ve seen over the past 10 year period. However, despite the incredible volume of travelers, our projection reflects a four percent decline compared to the 2009 holiday, which had the highest reported volume of residents traveling this decade.”
Last year nearly 2.2 million (2,155,000) Marylanders traveled for the Christmas-New Year’s period, according to data from IHS Global Insight, which conducts travel research for AAA.
“Coming off an increase in Thanksgiving travel, Americans overall seem willing to continue their travel plans for another holiday given the nationwide projected 4 percent increase for this Christmas/New Year’s period. However, it seems many Marylanders are still dealing with a variety of financial woes, including joblessness and the foreclosure crisis, and thus are picking and choosing which holiday they will celebrate miles from home,” commented Averella. “If Marylanders traveled at Thanksgiving, which it seems many did given AAA Mid-Atlantic’s four percent projected increase, it appears some residents are now choosing to stay home for Christmas.”
Even in the face of much higher gas prices than a year ago, over 1.8 million Marylanders will take to the roads. “The majority of residents traveling, 87 percent, will drive to their holiday destination. This reflects a 3.4 percent decline compared to last year’s holiday when the state’s average price at the pump was 87 cents lower than today’s price. It seems the cost of gas might be the biggest single economic factor for the decrease in auto travelers,” commented Averella.
A five percent decline in residents traveling by air is even higher than the projected auto travel decrease. Only 5 percent of Marylanders, 95,000, will fly to their holiday destination. “As with Thanksgiving travel, many Marylanders are again choosing to avoid flying to reach their destination for this upcoming holiday, preferring to take other modes of transportation that perhaps are less restrictive and more inexpensive,” said Averella.
Marylanders choosing other modes of transportation, including trains and buses, consist of 8 percent, 168,000, of travelers.
AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. For purposes of this forecast, the
Christmas / New Year holiday travel period is defined as trips that include roundtrip travel of 50 miles or more away from home during the period from Wednesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 3.