TIA: Fall travel to drop with the temperatures

The fall travel season encompassing September, October and November will be rather cool, especially when compared with last fall, according to the Travel Industry Association's (TIA) seasonal forecast.

By the time the fall season ends, the TIA is projecting, travelers will take 279.4 million person-trips of 50 miles or more one way from home.

That's 1.1% less than the 282.6 million person-trips taken in fall 2004, which was one of best fall travel seasons in recent years.

To understand the reason for the difference between fall 2005 and fall 2004, one only needs to look at the newspaper.

"The combination of soaring gas prices, Hurricane Katrina, a weak job outlook and shaky consumer confidence set the tone for a relatively weak fall travel season," Suzanne Cook, the TIA's senior vice president of research, said in a statement.

Nevertheless, overall, fall travel has been trending up during the last four years.

Indeed, if the 279.4 million person-trips projected for this fall proves accurate, it will be the second-highest fall travel season since 2000 in terms of person-trips.

And given all the bad news, Cook said, "the fact that we were able to sustain the record level of travel seen last fall is good news for the industry."

The TIA's forecast predicted that travelers will make 225.3 million individual leisure trips, compared with 229 million last fall.

While leisure travel is expected to dip, business trips are projected to rise slightly.

The TIA is forecasting travelers will take 43.8 million business trips of 50 miles or more one way from home this fall. That's up from the 43.4 million taken in the fall of 2004.

Nevertheless, the TIA noted, fall business travel remains far below the 47.9 million individual trips recorded in 2000.

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