WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Temperatures are rising, and that means tourism season has begun. But temperatures aren’t the only things on the rise. Gas prices and airfares are soaring, too, which means many families are turning their vacations into stay-cations.
“We all have our breaking point, whether it’s at the gas pump or if it’s going to be flying on an airplane,”
Wilmington International Airport Director Jon Rosborough said. “If the prices get up too high, then people are going to start backing off.”
Rosborough said the price of air travel has increased multiple times this year alone, and with fuel costs on the rise as well, economists say they don’t see airline prices coming down any time soon.
Shell Island Resort Operations Director Nicole Jones agrees the cost of travel by plane or car is changing the way people get away.
“We haven’t been full as long as we have likes the last couple of weeks, but we’ve filled up quickly in the last seven days,” Jones said. “So it’s been a lot of last minute but a lot of local, North Carolina, South Carolina.”
“When you’ve got this beautiful backyard right here in North Carolina, you don’t have to go too far,” traveler Bob Gustaveson said. “We’re beach people, so this is our best option for this year anyways.”
Gustaveson works in Canada. He chose to drive home to Cary to see his family, because plane tickets were too expensive. Gustaveson said he and his family don’t have any air travel plans as of now, and will most likely only travel by plane if it’s for business; one reason Rosborough says ILM continues to get a lot of traffic.
“Air travel here in Wilmington, especially is business related, and business has to go on,” Rosborough said.
Commerce and travel experts say vacations must go on too. Tourism specialists think people are tired of giving up getaways, so folks are changing their trips as prices change.
“I think it’s an advantage for us this year that people are staying close and can drive and be in a great location that’s almost tropical and it’s only two or three hours away,” Jones said. “It’s nice.”
According to numbers so far, travel industry experts expect this year’s season will still be a busy one, but maybe with a more local clientele.