Gas prices not expected to discourage Labor Day travel

High gas prices won’t stop travelers from hitting the roads this Labor Day weekend.

AAA predicts that 33 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more, a 3 percent increase from last year’s holiday weekend. In Georgia, more than 900,700 will vacation.

“We still expect to see a pretty robust travel weekend,” said Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South. “People already have reservations or tickets booked, and they’ll still go on vacation.”

Hurricane Isaac halted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico last weekend and into the week. Thursday’s national average price for gasoline was 11 cents higher than one week ago. Prices rose 32 cents in a month.

Gas prices, however, could affect the number of last-minute auto travelers, Brady said. Those affected by the hurricane in the Gulf Coast area might stay home as well to clean up damage, she said.

Travel numbers also were up for Memorial Day and Independence Day, which AAA says signifies improving consumer confidence. About 85 percent of Labor Day travelers will go by car and 8 percent by plane.

Visitors to Hilton Head Island, S.C., are likely to compensate for high gas prices by spending less during their beach stay, said Charlie Clark, the vice president of communications for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times of the Hilton Head Island summer season. Hotels are headed toward a sellout weekend, and restaurants are preparing for the last boom of the season, Clark said.

In Asheville, N.C., hotels are not at capacity, but many expect last-minute bookings and walk-in traffic, said Marla Tambellini, the deputy director of the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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