Better Economy Gets Travelers On The Road Again

Millions of travelers are hitting the roads for Memorial Day weekend vacations. AAA expects 32 million people to travel this holiday which is a 5 percent increase from last year. Much like the broader economy, the tourism industry is showing signs of gradual improvement.

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DAVID GREENE, host:

This long Memorial Day weekend, AAA expects 32 million people to travel. That's up five percent from last year and seems to be a sign that tourism is improving along with the economy.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH: It seems the once fashionable staycation may be on the way out. This is the first time in five years AAA is projecting an increase in travelers for Memorial Day weekend.

Troy Green is with AAA.

Mr. TROY GREEN (AAA): Some Americans, and I emphasize some Americans, are feeling a little more confident about their personal financial situations.

KEITH: Though much like the broader economy, the travel business is nowhere near pre-recession levels. Still, Green says destinations like the National Parks, Washington, D.C. and the amusement parks in Orlando will be busy this weekend.

Mark Nelson is getting ready.

Mr. MARK NELSON (Royal Plaza Resort): It's going to be a madhouse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NELSON: It's going to be Mickey ears everywhere.

KEITH: Nelson is the director of sales at the Royal Plaza Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Think Disney World.

Mr. NELSON: Every one of our hotels along the street here will be full and people are going to be smiling and happy, and therefore so will we.

KEITH: This time last year, Nelson says the rooms weren't so full. He says travelers are returning in bigger numbers now but they want to pay less and get more, like room upgrades or free breakfast.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

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