Economy Watch: More Americans Traveling for July 4 Than Ever

The hospitality sector and, to a lesser extent, the retail sector are set to benefit from record 44.2 million Americans expected to travel during the 2017 Independence Day holiday period, according to an AAA forecast.
Source: AAA
Source: AAA

During the 2017 Independence Day holiday period (June 30 to July 4) a record 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home, according to a recent AAA forecast. That would be 1.25 million more travelers than last year, making 2017 the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend on record.

Some 37.5 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year, AAA predicted, while 3.44 million people will be flying for Independence Day, increasing air travel by 4.6 percent over last year. Also, 3.27 million travelers, an increase of 1.4 percent from 2016, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses.

Those kinds of numbers would be good for the hospitality sector, and, to a lesser extent, retailers (especially those near major destinations) and other businesses that cater to tourists. AAA senior vice president Bill Sutherland chalks up the surfeit of travelers this year to strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence.

Gas prices are also a help. The national average gas price (as of July 2) is about four cents cheaper than this same time last year, at $2.234 per gallon, and quite low for the summer travel season.