Travel industry experts are predicting a sharp decrease in Thanksgiving travel this year.
Both AAA Michigan and GasBuddy expect fewer motorists to be on the road this holiday season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
GasBuddy’s annual survey found that 35% of Americans will be taking to the roads this year, a decrease from 65% from last year, amidst some of the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices the country has seen in years.
Furthermore. AAA expects up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving – a drop from 55 million in 2019. In Michigan, the expectation is 1.6 million travelers, down 8.1% from 2019.
However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel health notices, AAA expects the actual number of holiday travelers will be even lower.
“AAA acknowledges that the decision to travel is a personal one,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA-The Auto Club Group. “The CDC says staying home is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. For those who still decide to travel, we urge you to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and others.”
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The national average gas price is projected to be $2.17 per gallon, lower this year as oil prices plunged from year ago levels amidst depressed demand for gasoline due to the coronavirus keeping Americans closer to home and away from their normal driving routines.
“Gasoline demand has continued to struggle as the coronavirus has kept Americans in their homes and keys out of their cars, working and e-learning from home. But with positive outcomes from two vaccine trials, we’re beginning to see optimism return, leading prices to rise slightly just in time for Thanksgiving,” says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
“However, survey results show continued anxiety from motorists even with the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in years, highlighting the challenges we’re facing in this pandemic.”
Seventy-nine percent of people said that gas prices are not impacting their travel plans, according to GasBuddy.
Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents in GasBuddy’s annual survey said that their travel plans are impacted by the coronavirus. When asked in what ways they were impacted, 71% said they are staying home instead of traveling this year. Five percent said they are not celebrating Thanksgiving this year due to the coronavirus.
The remainder are either celebrating Thanksgiving at a different location this year (20%), or driving instead of taking other forms of transportation to their Thanksgiving destination (11%).
Those who are traveling are taking shorter trips than in years past, with survey results seeing a 75% increase in those who are traveling less than one hour to their Thanksgiving destination compared to 2019.
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