Travel up statewide for the holidays |

Travel up statewide for the holidays

Daily News staff report

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

DENVER – Coloradans will travel in record numbers this Christmas holiday, despite travel costs that are up nearly across the board, according to AAA Colorado.While national travel is projected to be relatively flat, 31 percent more Coloradans will travel during the Christmas weekend, from Dec. 23-26, compared to last year.”We’re seeing a growth spurt of travel locally because people are finally rebounding from the 9/11 tragedy,” says Sandra Barnes, travel director for AAA Colorado.Compared to last year, 56 percent more Coloradans are flying to their holiday destinations during the Christmas weekend. “That’s huge,” Barnes said. “It indicates to us that family travel is up, because we’re seeing more people booking trips to places like Disney World.”

Nationally, 81 percent of people will drive to their holiday destination and 14 percent will fly. AAA estimates that 63.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 1.7 percent increase from last year’s 62.42 million travelers.Holiday auto travelers will find gas prices nationwide averaging about $2.18 for a gallon of regular gasoline, down nearly 90 cents from the records set during Labor Day weekend, but still 31 cents higher than a year ago.In addition to highest-ever yuletide pump prices, travelers will face higher prices for hotels and airfares, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Holiday hotel rates are up 14 percent for AAA-rated Three Diamond hotels, as strong demand allows hoteliers to raise rates to near their Christmas 2001 peak.As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its more than 48 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services and member-only savings.

Top Eight Holiday Destinations – Denver – Las Vegas- Orlando

– Colorado Springs – Phoenix – Austin- Durango- Seattle- Source: AAA Colorado, based on lodging booking made in the state.