Gas prices not expected to curtail holiday weekend travel

SANDUSKY With gas prices inching toward $4 a gallon, one would think that the holiday weekend i
Janet
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

With gas prices inching toward $4 a gallon, one would think that the holiday weekend is doomed.

But according to the AAA Ohio Auto Club, high gas prices aren't going to stop people from traveling.

"People are definitely still going to travel this weekend despite high gas prices," said auto club spokeswoman Joanna Herncane.

Research for Memorial Day travel, based on a national survey of 2,000 people by the Travel Industry Association of America, shows that 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 minutes or more from home this weekend -- a 1.7 percent increase from last year.

"Many people will economize on their trips," said Herncane, adding that high gas prices won't deter people from traveling. "They're really cutting back on things they can control."

She mentioned less expensive hotels and eating at cheaper restaurants as examples.

"It comes down to service," said Steven Schuster, owner of Max & Erma's and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery. "It makes everybody hold on to their money tighter."

A majority of the travelers -- about 32 million people -- are expected to travel by car this year, a nearly 2 percent increase from the 31.5 million people who drove last year.

Many area businesses anticipate this weekend to be similar to previous Memorial Day weekends, despite gas prices.

Cedar Point spokesman Bryan Edwards said the park is expecting a large crowd this weekend.

"It is always a big holiday weekend for people," he said. "The weather has been incredible these past two weeks. Hopefully we'll see some more coming out this week."

TGI Friday's area manager Dan Ferber said the restaurant plans to open its main patio.

Ferber said he expects to see a lot of boaters, local residents, and Cedar Point visitors this weekend.

"I don't think the gas prices will really affect us," he said. "I think the reason is because more people are taking smaller trips ... instead of weeklong trips."

Schuster said his expectations for this weekend are the same as last year. He has extra staff scheduled to work the busy weekend.

"There's a momentum building and we're very excited," he said. "We are ready to go."