Gas prices could mean shorter summer road trips for Coloradoans

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Coloradoans making their summer vacation plans may opt for fewer destinations and more in-state road trips.

The rising gas prices will likely affect cross-country road trips, but that could be a good thing for Colorado, said Wave Dreher, AAA Colorado spokeswoman.

“There is so much to do in Colorado that bodes well for us,” she said. “I really think we will see in state travel and regional travel from neighboring states.”

Rising fuel costs could bring in more travelers from Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming, who want a close driving destination, Dreher said. Typically, summer driving tourists will drive as many as 500 to 700 miles, she said.

But, national tourism experts are braced for a slower summer due to the rising fuel prices. The national average gas price as of Tuesday is $3.87 per gallon, and is expected to hit $4.11 by end of April, according to www.gasbuddy.com.

More than 50 percent of vacationers planning to travel by car this summer, surveyed by the U.S. Travel Association, said that an increase in gas prices would affect their summer leisure travel plans; and, 57 percent said they would alter travel plans if gas prices increased by at least 26 cents to $1.25.

“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.”

About 44 percent of vacationers traveling by car said that an increase in gas prices would cause them to take fewer trips this summer.

“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 U.S. Travel.  “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.”

Dreher said Coloradoans likely will alter vacation plans to control summer vacation costs.

“We me might be seeing shorter trips, and two or three destinations, instead of five or six,” she said.