Summer travel will cost you more - East Valley Tribune: Business

Summer travel will cost you more

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Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 6:07 am | Updated: 4:11 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Americans will spend an average of 5.4 percent more on food and lodging for a vacation-packed summer than they spent last year, AAA Arizona said Monday.

And that doesn’t count how much they’ll spend just to get where they are going, said Christina Estes, AAA Arizona spokeswoman.

Skyrocketing fuel costs — both for cars and airplanes — will send transportation costs soaring. “Crude oil just set another record high of $70.40 (Monday),” Estes said. Airlines have already started raising fares and cutting back or charging for formerly gratis services, she said.

Motorists won’t fare any better. Statewide pump prices are expected to level off at $2.65 to $2.85, and that’s barring any unforeseen supply problems, Estes said.

If America has another bad hurricane season, all bets are off, she said.

But so far, higher tabs are not dampening plans for summer getaways, Estes said.

“That is part of the reason prices are up so much — demand is up,” she said.

According to a AAAconducted nationwide survey, a family of four will spend an average $261 daily on food and lodging while on vacation this summer. Travelers will drop $141 of that on hotel rooms, up 9 percent from last year.

AAA estimates a family of four will spend an average of $257.13 a day if they visit Arizona — expected to be the 20th most expensive state this summer.

Even though it is the slowest tourist season locally, the Valley has become a popular place for summer meetings, boosting demand and prices for hotel rooms, Estes said.

Valley residents hoping to get out of town can find bargains in North Dakota, pegged to be the cheapest summer hot spot at $190.54 per day for a family of four.

Hawaii will take the biggest budget bite at $558.53 per day, with the nation’s capital costing an also extravagant $517.92.

But it’s all good news for local hoteliers coming off a banner winter season.

At the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Indian Community, summer business is already booking, said Kristen Jarnagin, resort spokeswoman.

“This year has been strong from Jan. 1 on, and we’re not seeing any slowdown as gas prices have risen,” Jarnagin said.

Pump tabs can be a worry for local hotels because their primary summer business comes from California and other drive-in states.

“We had a record summer last year,” Jarnagin said. “And we expect to increase occupancy (the percentage of available rooms booked) again this year. And our room rate will increase, too.”

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