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touism300.jpg Submitted by WWAY on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 4:17pm.

Thousands of people will be flocking to our coast for Independence Day, but AAA says travel is still not where it was a year ago. AAA blames sagging finances and rising unemployment rate for fewer people choosing to go on vacation. The word vacation has changed. For many who are choosing to take one, it's all about value and staying close to home. "A car ride somewhere we could go somewhere and get away, but yet be close at home and not have to spend a whole lot of money,” said Kathy Moran who is visiting from Greensboro. The Fourth of July is typically the busiest time for road travel, and also the busiest time for our coast. Connie Nelson at the visitor's bureau says two major attractions, the Historic Downtown Riverfront and the local beaches, are keeping our local economy going. "We are located within an hour or two hour, three hour drive from some real strong feeder markets so we are less than a tank of gas away,” she said. AAA expects the number of Americans traveling more than 50 miles from home to dip two percent from last year and down ten percent when compared to the July 4th holiday in 2007. Nelson says hotel stays are down as well. Instead of a week long vacation, some have been cutting down their stays to just three nights. She says many will wait for last minute deals from hotels hoping to fill rooms. "There is also going to be a lot of last minute travel. A lot of people are making their decisions closer and closer to the last minute, trying to get those last minute deals and also watching the weather report." When it comes to air travel, AAA says they actually expect the industry to see an increase in bookings due to cheaper flights and a demand from those who put off that vacation last year.

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