Tourism

Unmet demand shields tourism industry from rising gas prices

IT HASAs the pandemic fades in the rearview mirror, tourists are spreading across the country to travel despite record gas prices and higher costs across the board.

Gasoline prices hit another record Thursday, rising to a national average of $4.72 a gallon. That’s more than 52 cents in the last month alone and about $1.67 more than at the same time last year. These prices are reflected in high airfare and make travel even more unaffordable, combined with higher inflation across the board.

While these prices tend to dampen demand for summer travel, this year appears to be different due to pent-up travel demand driven by two years of pandemic-related restrictions and travel planning difficulties.

About 70% of people plan to travel as much or more this year than they did last year, according to an AAA survey, even as consumer prices have risen 8.3% over the past 12 months and gas prices have skyrocketed. .

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Jace Ramsey, associate professor in the Department of Management at the University of Florida Gulf Coast, said despite rising gas and airfare prices, demand for travel and tourism is expected to be strong this summer.

“People want to travel so badly that they incur expenses in a way that I find somewhat shocking,” Ramsey said. Washington Explores. “Right now, after COVID and two years of staying at home… people are ready to go out again.”

Ramsey said businesses aren’t as concerned about passing on higher costs to consumers due to the level of demand.

Angela and Mikel Welling own and operate Appalachian Offroad Adventure in Gore, Virginia. Their company offers tourists tours on 4×4 SUVs in jeeps. The couple actually started the business during the pandemic, and since then they’ve both seen it flourish, especially this year as COVID-19 eases.

Angela Welling said Washington Explores that as the weather warms up and summer comes into its own, interest in her business is growing and bookings are on the rise.

She suggested that some of the traffic to her business could be the result of higher gas prices. She said that many of her clients come from nearby states and may have opted to take the jeep tour for a unique vacation experience without spending huge sums of money on plane tickets to distant locations.

She said that even though gas prices are high and affect the cost of a visit, customers seem eager to get outside and enjoy their first summer, which has largely returned to normal since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

“This year we have received a lot more calls and bookings,” she said…

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