The number of Floridians traveling more than 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend is expected to decrease slightly from last year.
The real dip is in air travel, with 121,065 Floridians projected to board a plane, down more than 9 percent from a year ago. Car trips are holding steady, AAA projects, and that could help local hotels.
Palm Beach County tourism officials expect to see an increase in visitors. Early reports from hotels indicate occupancy levels are up from a year ago.
Tourist Development Council Executive Director Glenn Jergensen said sports events will help boost hotel occupancy for the holiday weekend, as Roger Dean Stadium hosts the 40-team baseball tournament Under Armour Memorial Day Classic. Interstate 95 hotels are looking for the automobile travelers to boost business.
“We’re optimistic they (hotels) are going to have a good kick off to summer,” Jergensen said. “And the weather certainly looks like it’s going to help us out.”
Mark Jenkins, a Tampa-based AAA spokesman, said that slightly more than 1.8 million Floridians expect to travel, which is approximately 18,000 fewer than Memorial Day weekend 2012.
“Air fares are up 10 percent this year over last year. For Memorial Day weekend the lowest round trip average is $215 compared to $195 last year,” Jenkins said.
Instead, people will be hitting the roads, and the average trip will be 690 miles compared to 642 miles last year. Gasoline prices have been stable and that helps people know what to budget, Jenkins said.
At the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, the Future Collegians World Tour is being held, Vice President and Managing Director Joel Paige said.
“They fill us up over Memorial Day weekend and they have for at least the last seven to eight years,” he said. “On top of that, we’ve got three weddings and a bar mitzvah.”
The stream of visitors to the area has definitely slacked off in May after a booming season that set records on hotel revenues and tourism taxes.
Summer rates are kicking in, though maybe not for Memorial Day weekend. And the Convention and Visitors Bureau launched its MyPalmBeachSummer.com campaign with special hotel packages. Participation from area hotels is up 40 percent over last year’s inaugural campaign.
Rates are up and it looks like occupancy may be higher this year, said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Luxury and beach hotels are reporting lots of out-of-town visitors.
For the past two years, occupancy has been about 70 percent on Friday night and 85 percent on Saturday night, but early reports from hotels indicate levels in the 80s and 90s this year, he said.
“We may be in for a much better, stronger performance than the last couple of years,” Pesquera said.