DAYTONA BEACH – An estimated 2.85 million Florida residents are expected to travel this coming Thanksgiving weekend, a 13% increase from last year.
The optimistic forecast from the AAA Auto Club predicts a 9% increase in Florida residents who travel at least 50 or more miles by car and a massive 79% increase for Sunshine residents who travel by plane over the weekend.
“Thanksgiving looks very promising,” said Bob Davis, CEO of the Volusia County Accommodation and Hospitality Association. “It’s thriving, especially now that international travel has opened up again.”
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Davis often cites the reports he gets from area hotels that are members of his association. This time, he also turned to another source: his daughter, who had just flown to Daytona Beach from Chicago.
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Davis’s daughter, Rita Irwin, said she periodically returns to where she grew up to visit her father.
John Petros, general manager of the Daytona Beach Regency and Cove on Ormond Hilton Grand Vacation area, said he expects both hotels to sell on Thanksgiving night as well as Black Friday and Saturday, November 27. 250 rooms.
“We’re pretty much on track with where we were (on the Thanksgiving holiday) in 2019,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t sell any of the nights. We were only about 75 to 80% full.”
Laurie Campbell-Becker, executive director of the Daytona Beach District Visitors and Convention Bureau, also offered an optimistic view of the local tourism industry for the rapidly approaching holiday season.
“As of this (last) week, Canadian snowbirds are able to return, and of course, increased air service at DAB (Daytona Beach International Airport) is always a positive factor as well,” Baker wrote in an email.
American Airlines is scheduled to resume daily, seasonal, non-stop service to Daytona Beach from Philadelphia as well as from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, from December 16 to January 3, airport spokeswoman Joanne Magley confirmed,
“While we don’t have access to advanced booking data, we expect air traffic to be higher this year compared to last year,” she said.
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Nationally, AAA expects 53.4 million Americans will travel on Thanksgiving weekend, up 13% from last year.
This will increase travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019 when 2.91 million Florida residents and 56 million people across the country took long-distance trips during that year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
“It’s starting to look like a regular holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel at AAA, said in a press release. “Now that US borders have opened, vaccines are readily available, and new health and safety guidelines in place, travel is once again high on the list of Americans willing to be reunited with loved ones for the holidays.”