Midweek holiday a travel muddle
The Associated Press July 1, 2012 10:02PM
In this Friday, June 29, 2012 photo, Walter Diaz, of Miami, checks-in at Miami International Airport in Miami. Diaz, who is traveling to New Jersey on business, will not be traveling on the Fourth of July because the holiday falls on a Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:27AM
NEW YORK — Who knew the calendar could cause so much vacation heartburn?
For the first time in five years Independence Day falls on a Wednesday, leaving travelers unsure when to celebrate and worrying those who make a living off tourists.
“The midweek holiday seems to have travelers confused,” said Anthony Del Gaudio, vice president of hotel sales for Loews Hotels, which isn’t seeing the normal July Fourth spike in bookings.
Those who sell vacations say this year’s calendar gives Americans more options: Tack on Saturday through Tuesday or Thursday through Sunday to the holiday, or just take the entire week off.
But consumers’ confidence has been waning. Now, some aren’t happy about having to burn an extra vacation day or two to get that long weekend. From 2008 through 2011, the work holiday fell on either Friday or Monday, so employees and their families got an automatic three-day weekend.
AAA, one of the nation’s largest travel agencies, projects 42.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home between July 3 and July 8. That’s roughly the same amount that traveled in 2007, the last time July Fourth fell on a Wednesday. Last year, when the holiday fell on a Monday, 40.3 million people traveled. But before you think it’s a big increase, note that AAA’s economists changed how they estimated the number of travelers: They used a six-day period this year compared to five last year.
“In general, we think that travel from last year is pretty flat,” said Shane Norton, a director at IHS Global Insight, which provides economic forecasting and research for AAA.
The overwhelming majority of Independence Day travelers plan to drive: 35.5 million people or 84 percent of travelers according to AAA.
Another 3.2 million travelers, or 8 percent of holiday vacationers, plan to fly. That will boost their credit card bills: the average domestic round-trip ticket is $391, up 6 percent from last year, according to Travelocity.