On the road again: Summer travel resumes in a big way | local news

The unofficial start of summer got off to a rocky start this Memorial Day weekend, despite soaring travel costs and COVID-19 concerns.

“We’re going to have another 1.2 million people traveling,” said Jim Garrity, AAA’s director of public affairs. “It’s about 7% more than last year. Consumers are ready to travel again, especially those who didn’t take a trip last year, and probably haven’t seen certain members of their family or friends for a few years. They’re thinking to themselves, ‘This is the year I’ll be back. to there.”

Of course, whoever wants to escape deals with some factors that may cause some hesitation, such as the price of tickets and gasoline.

According to figures from AAA, the lowest average air travel is 6% more than last year, and mid-range hotel rates are up about 42%.

Gasoline prices have significantly exceeded the 2021 figures.

According to the AAA, the average price of gasoline in western Pennsylvania for the week beginning May 22 was $4.70 a gallon. The average price during the week of May 24, 2021 was just under $1.50 – $3,178 per gallon.

The average price for unleaded gasoline this week was $4,699 in Washington and $4,687 in Uniontown.

“Air and gas travel is out of sight at the moment,” said Sandy Davis, owner of Davis Travel Agency in Monongahela. “I was looking for someone to get a ticket to Florida and it was $800. This is crazy. It’s just ridiculous.”

However, she said, more people have booked flights this year than in the last two years. COVID concerns appear to be lower.

“I just got back from Europe and you’ll never know,” Davis said. “I’ve been to five countries in 12 days, and you’ll never know.”

More people are traveling, said Karl Brandtonis, owner of Worldview Travel in Washington, but said higher gas prices could limit that a bit.

“We are seeing more people coming out, but the gas will start to affect it and airline tickets will start to grow,” he said. “They’re looking to book flights, but airfares are starting to go up nicely now.”

Garrity said the AAA surveyed in February as gas prices started to rise.

“What we found is that about the $4 mark is when consumers start making changes in their daily habits and behaviors so that they can still prioritize things like travel, summer trips, vacations, and going to see family and friends, perhaps now more than ever for consumers who couldn’t do So over the past few years.” “Despite higher gas prices, more people are traveling.”

The thing that happened during COVID is the rediscovery of the outdoors. Local attractions like Mingo Creek County Park should be popular all summer long.

“If the weekend turns out to be a nice weekend with the weather, there’s no doubt Mingo is going to be crowded with people,” said Lisa Cesna, planning director for Washington County.

Cessna said requests for Cross Creek Park Lake permits have increased, especially for motorized boats, paddle boats and kayaks. Additionally, shelter rentals are getting stronger.

“It used to be just a lake for fishermen, but now we have a lot of people doing some fun activities that we haven’t seen before,” she said. “You will be hard pressed to find weekend shelter all summer. There are still some available during the week. We are pretty much booked with all our shelters on weekends all summer.”

Brett Moore, Greene County’s director of recreation, said there has been strong participation in outdoor events, as well as good crowds on the Greene River Trail during the pandemic. Now, she’s picking up more.

“Most of our events are very well attended,” he said. “Drag races are scheduled at the airport (Sunday), and we assume there will be a very high turnout.

Moore also said suite rentals and pool parties are booked throughout the better part of summer.

It’s as if people want to go out again.

“Our travel advisors have been so busy, a lot of times people just call and ask what’s available,” Garrity said. “The love for wanderlust started to take hold and the desire to get out and go anywhere – a lot of people started feeling that again. It’s fun to see.”

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