TIA winter forecast: Travel heating up in coldest months

The travel industry appears to be in the midst of the best winter travel season in the past five years.

According to the Travel Industry Associations Winter 2004 forecast, travelers are expected to take 243.3 million trips of 50 miles or more one-way from home (person trips) during December, January and February. Thats up 2.6% from the 237.1 million person trips taken in the same months last year.

Should the TIAs forecast hold, the 2004 winter season will surpass not only the overall totals for 2003 but 2002, 2001 and 2000, as well.

The forecast projects leisure travel during the season, as it has been for the past several years, will surpass business travel. Nevertheless, both sectors will be up year over year.

Leisure travelers are expected to take 195.1 million person trips of 50 miles or more one-way from home compared with 190.4 million person trips during the winter of 2003.

Comparatively, business travelers are expected to take 30.5 million person trips this winter compared with 29.6 million last year.

Overall, winter business travel continues to lag behind its heyday in 2000 when some 37.1 million trips were taken between December and February.

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