Originally created 05/15/98

Record summer travel expected



NEW YORK -- Americans will travel in record numbers again this summer, but the growth won't be as robust as last year, the Travel Industry Association predicted Thursday.

And in a reversal of last summer when adults tended to take off alone, there will be more children in tow this year.

Americans are expected to take 251 million trips this summer, up from 244 million trips in the summer of 1997, the TIA reported.

"We are seeing an unprecedented enthusiasm for summer travel and this is a direct response to America's surging economic situation," said William S. Norman, president and chief executive of the TIA.

But the sizzling growth of last summer won't be maintained. While the TIA is forecasting a 3 percent increase in travel over last summer, that's down from 9 percent growth from 1996 to 1997.

The survey found that 51 percent of those planning to take a pleasure trip this summer expected to take children, recovering from last year's dip of 11 percentage points to 43 percent.

"There seems to be a movement back to ... spending quality time with the family," Norman said.

And fishing appears to be the hot new pastime, with 44 percent of people saying they expected to travel with rod and reel, compared with 38 percent last year. Fishing is especially popular among those with children, where 50 percent put it on their summer vacation plans.

On average, travelers expect to spend an average of 8 nights away from home on their longest pleasure trip this summer, while the number of people planning trips of less than one week grew slightly from last year. Travelers expect to spend about $970 on their longest vacation.

The nation's capitol has fallen from favor as one of the places people most want to visit, but North Carolina and Washington state made the wish list for the first time. Florida, California, Hawaii and Nevada remain the most popular travel destinations.

About 20 percent of the respondents said they weren't likely to travel this summer, about the same as last year.

Business travel is expected to remain stable this summer at about 68 million trips.

The TIA's telephone survey questioned a representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adults in April. Those who had taken a trip of 100 miles or more, one-way, in the previous 12 months, about 71 percent, were then asked about their travel intentions for the coming summer.