Last year, AAA Mid-Atlantic forecast that more than 118,000 Delaware residents would travel 50 miles or more for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. This year is expected to look much, much different. For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19.
Locally, Delaware remains under a state-of-emergency, with beaches scheduled to reopen with restrictions this Friday.
• Americans should heed all official warnings and refer to the latest updates from the CDC and U.S. Department of State to help decrease the spread of COVID-19.
• The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention continues to recommend that Americans stay home and avoid nonessential travel.
• Anecdotal reports suggest fewer people will hit the road compared to years past for what is considered the unofficial start of the summer travel season.
• Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day weekend — the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000.
• With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.
• Memorial Day 2009 (toward the end of the Great Recession) currently holds the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers, according to AAA.
• Wednesday’s national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $1.90. The last time the national gas price average leading into the holiday was less than $2 per gallon was in 2003.
“Gas prices around Memorial Day have not been this cheap in nearly 20 years. However, as the country continues to practice social distancing, this year’s unofficial kick-off to summer is not going to drive the typical millions of Americans to travel,” said Ken Grant, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Despite inexpensive gas prices, AAA anticipates this year’s holiday will likely set a record low for travel volume.”
AAA said they expect that when it is safe to travel again, vacationers will gravitate to road trips and family bookings, including air, car, hotel and activities to destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Shortly thereafter, assuming international travel restrictions are lifted, they expect to see more demand for tropical destinations and a wider range of international travel.