Travel Like Millions Of Americans,
Or Stay Home For Fourth Of July?
BY O.J. EARLY
It's still fun to travel on the nation's birthday.
More than 40 million Americans are expected to hit the road this Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA.
The number of Americans projected to vacation during the Independence Day holiday is down slightly from last year, due mostly to July Fourth being on a Thursday, along with a still-recovering U.S. economy, the organization reported.
Greene County Partnership Tourism Director Tammy Kinser expects the AAA's July Fourth travel projections will be true for most county residents.
"Many locals will travel this Fourth of July holiday, but fewer than did in 2012," Kinser said this week. "Partly because of the shortened vacation window with the Fourth falling on a Thursday and partly because of the Fourth of July Celebration that will be taking place on that day in downtown," she said.
There's another reason you may choose not to travel this Independence Day, the AAA reported: the price of gas is up about 2 percent when compared with this time last year.
The organization defined the July Fourth holiday travel period as Monday, July 3, to Friday, July 7.
"Independence Day is typically the busiest holiday of the summer travel season with six million more Americans traveling than Memorial Day just two months ago," AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet said in a news release. "The Fourth of July benefits from the fact that all schools across the nation are out of session, making it truly a time for family fun."
Most Independence Day vacationers will journey no more than 150 miles away from home, according to the report.
The majority of holiday travelers -- 57 percent -- will visit friends and family, the report predicted.
Greene County could see a positive economic impact if Americans do take shorter vacations this July Fourth, Kinser said.
"We are the perfect drive-to market for the shorter trips that families are expected to be taking this vacation season," she said. "With gas prices increasing steadily, shorter trips are being taken by those that are driving."
Kinser added: "With the patriotic tie of Greeneville being a presidential town and Andrew Johnson's support and love for the Constitution, I feel that Greene County will see an increase of travel this Fourth of July."
The fact that Greeneville is hosting its own Fourth of July parade and celebration may help keep local residents in town, she noted.
"People need a sense of place, and by offering them a true Fourth of July celebration to attend with family and friends, our community will fulfill that need," Kinser said.
Locally, traffic flow always increases during the Independence Day holiday, both Kinser and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) spokesman Mark Nagi said.
In preparation for an increase in traffic, TDOT will suspend all traffic-related construction beginning July 3, Nagi said. Construction work will resume July 8.
Other highlights from AAA's report:
* 84 percent of Independence Day vacationers are expected to travel by automobile, a decrease from recent years;
* Gas prices are expected to be slightly higher than last year's national average, making this year's holiday gas average the highest it has been during July Fourth travel since 2008; and
* Eight percent of holiday vacationers will travel by air, a slight increase from July Fourth 2012.