Tourists to put the rubber on the road |

Tourists to put the rubber on the road

Daily file photoSummer tourist numbers statewide are running about 10 percent ahead of last year, according to AAA Colorado. Locally, summer tourism projections are slightly ahead of last year.

Gas prices can’t keep Coloradans down, or at home this summer.AAA Colorado is forecasting increases up to 10 percent in summer tourism across the state, compared to last summer.And while it’s still too early to say for sure, local head counters say, so far so good.”Booking trends are running late, but the small numbers on the books are on pace if not slightly above last year,” said Ian Anderson with the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau.The Vail Valley summer officially kicks off with the Teva Mountain Games, the weekend after Memorial day.Statewide bookings for the months running from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend are running between 5 percent and 10 percent ahead of last summer. AAA Colorado based those percentages on hotel bookings, car rentals and airline tickets purchased through AAA Colorado.

The increase in travel comes at a time of steadily increasing gasoline prices and a 5.4 percent increase in vacation costs. Hotels, restaurants and airfares are more expensive around the country compared to last summer, according to AAA’s annual vacation costs survey.It will cost a family of four an average of $261 per day for food and lodging this summer. That’s 9 percent increase for hotels and a 2 percent increase on meals, AAA found.Right now, Colorado’s average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.84. In Eagle County it takes some diligent searching to find it for under $3 a gallon.The national average is $2.92 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.”If people make any change based on the higher price of fuel and vacations in general, they’ll probably limit their road trips this summer and travel closer to home,” says AAA Colorado Travel Director Sandra Barnes.

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