Gas prices could decrease US leisure, business travel

With the price of crude oil continuing to rise, U.S. travelers could alter vacation plans to control summer vacation costs and business travelers will travel less, according to a new survey by the U.S. Travel Association.

“If travelers are spending more on gas, they are spending less on hotels, attractions, shopping and restaurants, which could have a negative impact on our overall economy,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “We need to find solutions that reduce the burden which rising gas prices are placing on everyday travelers.”

For vacationers planning to travel by car this summer, 54% said that an increase in gas prices would affect their summer leisure travel plans, and an even higher percentage, 57%, indicated altering travel plans if gas prices increased by US$0.26 to US$1.25. 26.8% of business travelers said that an increase in gas prices would affect summer business plans.

44% of vacationers traveling by car said that an increase in gas prices would cause them to take fewer trips this summer. 19% of business travelers using a car would take fewer trips.

43% of leisure travelers planning to fly this summer said that an increase in airfare due to higher oil prices would affect their summer plans, with 25% of business travelers planning to fly saying the same.

“It’s important to remember that, along with the housing crisis, a surge in gasoline prices was one of the leading factors that pushed the economy into recession in 2008,” said David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at the U.S. Travel Association. “There is a very real probability that if gas prices continue to climb, Americans will change and reduce their travel plans, which would work against the positive economic momentum that had been building in recent quarters.”

Finally, 43% of travelers said their vote for a presidential or congressional candidate this fall would be influenced by higher gas or oil prices.