At least 3.3 million Southern Californians are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, the latest sign of recovery from the pandemic for the region’s hard-hit tourism industry.
The number marks a 7.7% increase from last year and a half percent point higher than in 2019, according to a forecast by the Automobile Club of Southern California. Nationally, about 42.3 million Americans are expected to travel for the weekend, an uptick of 7% from 2022 and a decrease of 1% from 2019.
“This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president of travel products. “Despite higher ticket prices than last year, demand for flights is skyrocketing and this Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.”
At least 2.8 million Southern California residents are expected to travel by car, a 6% increase from 2022 but a 0.3% decrease from 2019, according to the Auto Club. About 358,000 are expected to travel by plane — a 11% increase from 2022 and a 7% uptick from 2019.
Gas prices have also gone down, from an average of $5.89 per gallon last year in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area to $4.85 per gallon, according to the Auto Club. The average price for regular gasoline in California is $4.81 per gallon, about four cents less than last week.
The travel and tourism industry was hard hit by the travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic and is still recovering.
California’s travel industry is also being impacted by inflation and a potential recession, resulting in labor shortages and a decrease in international travelers compared with pre-pandemic levels.
Travel spending in the state plummeted from $144.85 billion in 2019 to $68 billion in 2020, according to Visit California, the state’s tourism agency. That number rose to $102 billion in 2021 and $134 billion in 2022.
Spending numbers continue to rebound this year and show promise for recovery in the industry.
In April, the Automobile Club of Southern California reported that trips outside the U.S. have gone up more than 200% compared with 2022. Hotel bookings also went up more than 300% over last year.
Los Angeles itself has also seen the highest tourism levels this year since the pandemic. Visitor spending reached 89% of 2019 levels this year, according to a report by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.
Source: LA Times