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34 million fewer Americans to travel this holiday season, AAA predicts

AAA Travel expects the vast majority of Americans to stay home this holiday season. Public health concerns and travel guidance are influencing their decisions not to travel over the year-end holidays, a period that typically sees high demand for vacations.

While AAA expects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, as many as 84.5 million Americans may still travel from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, a decline in travel of at least 29%. In Tennessee, the expectation is that 2 million Tennesseans may still travel – a decline in travel of 28.4%.

“While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”

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Based on mid-October travel forecast models, AAA expected up to 50 million people would travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which would have been a decline of 10% from 2019. While final Thanksgiving travel numbers are not yet available, AAA expects the decline to be closer to 15–20%, as the CDC and state and local authorities advised against holiday travel.

Holiday travelers are continuing to take a wait-and-see approach to their travel decisions. With COVID 19 cases steadily increasing this month, the expected continued rise will likely prompt some Americans to make last minute decisions to not follow through with upcoming travel plans, which was the trend during the lead up to Thanksgiving.

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