Robert Monkelbaan, of Hephzibah, picked up maps from the AAA Auto Club office in Augusta on Tuesday to make sure he doesn’t make a wrong turn traveling to a family reunion at Fort Sumter this Labor Day weekend.
He will be among an estimated 31.5 million expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for Labor Day, a 2.4 percent decrease compared with last year, according to AAA Auto Club South.
“We’re expecting a full and busy holiday weekend,” said Charlie Clark, spokesperson for the Hilton Head visitor’s bureau. “Travelers are loosening their wallets a little more.”
Following reports of a strong summer tourism season, tourism experts predict Americans will visit mountain and beach destinations in high numbers for the Labor Day weekend.
A few hotels have sold out on Hilton Head for the coming weekend, Clark said. Visitors aren’t only coming to the beach, but they have raised their spending amounts compared with recent years, she said.
In Asheville, N.C., hotel sales were up 4.5 percent in July over the previous year, an indicator for a busy holiday weekend, said Dodie Stephens, senior communications manager for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Labor Day weekend is a great weekend for us,” Stephens said. “Just like everybody, we saw people tighten their belts. People aren’t willing to sacrifice all of their plans.”
Theme parks such as Six Flags in Atlanta and Carowinds near Charlotte have been popular picks for people visiting the AAA location in Augusta, said manager Krispin McGee.
To ease road traffic across Georgia, the state Department of Transportation will suspended construction-related lane closures from 5 a.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to a press release.
At his reunion, Monkelbaan will join more than 200 family members coming from as far away as New York, Boston and Fort Lauderdale. He said they have booked an entire hotel for themselves.
High costs associated with traveling crossed their minds, but they wanted to keep plans for the yearly tradition, Monkelbaan said.
To be cost-conscious, Monkelbaan will drive with other Augusta family members to save on gasoline. Gas prices remained relatively unchanged in the past few weeks, even with threats from Hurricane Irene, according to AAA Auto Club South. .