AAA Executive Vice President Mark Brown Testifies Before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
Executive from one of the nation’s largest leisure travel organizations discusses the potential impact of rising gas prices on American travelers
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — AAA Executive Vice President, Association and Club Services, Mark Brown testified before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources today regarding the impact of gas prices on the U.S. travel industry. Brown provided Committee members with a consumer prospective on the impact of fuel prices on household budgets and travel plans.
“Once again America’s motorists are caught in a squeeze and confused as they try to understand what is happening at the gas pump,” said Brown.
Since the beginning of 2012, the national average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline has jumped from $3.28 per gallon to $3.90 per gallon, an increase of 62 cents per gallon. At this price, a typical family owning two vehicles and using 1,200 gallons of gasoline per year spends about $4,680 annually, or about $390 per month.
Brown cited the findings of a recent AAA survey in which 84 percent of respondents said they have already changed their driving habits or lifestyle in some way because of increased gas prices. Combining trips and errands was the most commonly reported cost-cutting tactic, with 60 percent of respondents reporting having already made this adjustment. Forty-five percent of respondents are dining out less and 34 percent are delaying major purchases.
With more than 1,000 branch offices across the country and over 7,000 travel counselors, AAA has a finger on the pulse of the American traveler. Although rising gas prices can cause concern for the travel industry, Brown indicated that current feedback from AAA travel counselors is encouraging. “A quick poll of some of our agents suggests that members are not cancelling their vacation driving plans, but may alter the distance and number of destinations.”
AAA agents have noticed that consumers interested in purchasing individual airline tickets only are watching fares closely and waiting to book flights anticipating that fares may come down.
As the summer travel season approaches, Brown pointed out that it is still too early to determine the impact of higher gas prices on summer travelers. AAA produces five holiday travel forecasts each year with research partner IHS Global Insight. The first forecast for 2012, AAA’s Memorial Day Holiday Travel forecast, will be released in mid-May and will provide a reading of Americans’ desire to travel despite higher gas prices.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
AAA is a non-partisan organization providing unbiased reporting of gas prices through its popular weekly Fuel Gauge Report.
AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.