For Labor Day weekend, travelers can take advantage of deals on hotels, meals, spa treatments — and gasoline.
Labor Day weekend travel is expected to hit highs not seen since since the recession cut into vacation budgets, fueled in part by low gas prices.Relief at the pump is welcome news for South Florida destinations, which depend on drive-market travelers during the summer months.
“We always project for the summer season and always have a little prayer at the end of it that says, ‘As long as gas prices don’t skyrocket,’” said Nicki Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is not only not skyrocketing, not only maintaining but actually dropping to the point that people can perceive some savings if they’re going to be driving for end-of-summer vacation.”
Labor Day gas prices are expected to be the cheapest for the holiday weekend since 2010, according to a AAA prediction. The organization’s daily fuel gauge report said the average price for regular unleaded in In Miami, the average price for a gallon of regular was $3.43 on Thursday, compared to $3.62 a year ago.
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Mark Jenkins, a AAA spokesman, said the group’s Labor Day travel forecast reflects the drop. Nationwide, nearly 35 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles from home between Thursday and Monday, a 1.3 percent increase over last year and the highest number since 2008. In Florida, the number of projected travelers is 1.7 million, an increase of 2.4 percent.
Jenkins said cheaper gas “certainly influences people who are still deciding whether to take a trip.”
The holiday will lead to what is typically a slow month in South Florida. Grossman said the one bright spot will be the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the end of the month, when families travel for the Jewish holidays.
“September is a tough, tough time,” Grossman said, calling it “super value” season at hotels. “If locals want to get away and have a hotel for the weekend, you can’t beat September.”
Gina Guilford, a writer who lives near South Miami, is getting away to the Florida Keys for Labor Day weekend and staying at her sister’s condo with some friends.
While the trip has been planned for a while, Guilford said in an email that “the gas going down in price is certainly a bonus.”
Midweek, her biggest concern was that no outside forces interfere with plans for swimming, water skiing, cooking, movie-watching and relaxing. “Hopefully, no tropical disturbances will disturb our right to have fun,” she wrote.
This article includes comments from the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with the Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a source at MiamiHerald.com/insight.