AAA managers expect to have a busy summer

A solid majority of AAA travel agency managers are optimistic about summer travel this year, according to a survey conducted in April.

Based on responses from 27 club managers, representing 42% of the total, AAA said 67% of respondents expect summer bookings to rise.

Slightly more, or 70%, said they expect international bookings to increase because, as AAA put it, “Consumers are less afraid to travel and are more interested in Europe.” Also, travel managers expect consumers to have more discretionary income, despite rising fuel costs.

Though there is growing concern about high gasoline prices, few AAA travel agency managers expect that fuel prices will reduce overall travel demand.

Most respondents predicted that consumers would simply alter their behavior by taking trips closer to home, taking fewer trips or deciding to fly rather than drive.

Only 22% expect that fuel prices will reduce the number of vacation days, a sharp decline from the 55% who offered that prediction a year ago.

Furthermore, a mere 6% expect that concerns over fuel prices will cause travelers to cancel or postpone trips.

When asked about popular destinations, Orlando again claimed the top spot, but Las Vegas and Hawaii rose in the standings compared with a similar survey a year ago.

As for international destinations, Rome trumped London, while Dublin rose to the No. 3 position.

Respondents cited Portland, Ore.; Napa Valley and San Diego, Calif.; and Phoenix and Sedona, Ariz., as rising hot spots for domestic travel.

International hot spots cited in the survey include Barcelona, Spain; Costa Rica; Japan; Chile; Iceland; and South America.

Cruising is also expected to be popular, as 73% said they expect their cruise bookings will increase over last year.

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