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Holiday travel could drop 30% compared to last year

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

Holiday travel continues taking a hit as the recent surge in COVID-19 cases continues. AAA of Western and Central New York expects almost a third fewer travelers this holiday season, compared to last year.

AAA Spokeswoman Elizabeth Carey said the 29% decline in anticipated travel is the first decrease since 2008.

"This is breaking a streak of 11 straight years of travel growth,” Carey said. “This year, AAA expects the lowest travel volume since 2002.”

These statistics follow a Thanksgiving travel lull, prompted by people’s concerns over gatherings that have spread the coronavirus in recent weeks.

“It’s likely many travelers will make last minute decisions, choose not to follow through with their travel plans and just say, ‘I’m going to stay right here at home,’” Carey said. 

One thing that hasn’t changed, according to Director of Travel Brian Murray, for people who are traveling, the number one destination for folks in western and central New York is the same.  

“Florida is the top destination, and Orlando within Florida is the top city destination,” Murray said. “It’s interesting how those numbers change, yet Florida remains the same for us.”

One other trend Murray sees, pent up demand for travel means many people are giving travel gifts this holiday season for the coming year, as well as 2022 and 2023. Carey said AAA is not encouraging people to travel because of COVID-19. But they advise anyone who is leaving the area, make sure they know travel protocols for quarantining and testing at their destination.