SOURCE: Automobile Club of Southern California

Automobile Club of Southern California

December 17, 2015 04:00 ET

Auto Club: More Southern Californians Than Ever Will Travel for End-of-Year Holidays

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - December 17, 2015) - A record-breaking 12.3 million California residents and 7.6 million Southern Californians will travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 -- the largest number of local holiday travelers this century, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's holiday travel forecast. That's a 1.3 percent increase over 2014.

Eighty-nine percent of travelers, or 6.8 million Southern Californians and 10.9 million statewide, will travel by car to their destinations -- also a 1.3 percent increase from last year. More than 598,000 local residents and 965,000 Californians are expected to fly, which is a 0.4 percent increase over 2014.

Nationally, AAA projects the number of travelers will top 100 million for the first time in the 21st century, increasing by 1.4 percent compared to last year's Christmas-New Year holiday. 

This year marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for end-of-year holiday travel.

"Southern Californians are taking advantage of days off at work and school to see family, friends and new destinations," said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services. "For some, it's their biggest trip of the year and one they have planned for a long time. We expect that lower gas prices will also spur some last-minute getaways to driving destinations."

Gas prices will be drastically lower over the holiday season than 2014 in most areas of the U.S. But the savings over last year will probably not be as great in Southern California, where the current average price of $2.75 a gallon in Los Angeles-Long Beach is just 15 cents lower than at this time last year. Gas prices are not dropping as quickly locally due to a refinery outage in Torrance that continues to affect supply. Nationwide, the average gas price is near $2 a gallon.

AAA's analysis of average hotel, air and car rental expenses for this year's holiday shows that average airfares from Los Angeles to several popular destinations will be mostly lower than at this time last year, but hotel rates at AAA 3 Diamond properties are up by an average of 4 percent and car rental rates at popular destinations are up an average of 3 percent over 2014.

The most popular destinations for Southern Californians over this Christmas-New Year holiday, according to a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, are:

1) Las Vegas

2) San Francisco

3) San Diego

4) Arizona

5) Mexico

The year-end holiday forecast was conducted by IHS Global Insight on behalf of AAA. Historical travel data is provided by DK Shifflet, the world's most comprehensive consumer travel measurement provider.

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