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More people expected to travel this holiday weekend

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A newly released survey has found that tourists and travelers spent an estimated $17.2 billion in Michigan last year.

AAA Michigan predicts that 1.1 million people will travel 50 miles or more for Memorial Day weekend, a five percent increase from last year and the most since 2007.

Susan Hiltz, public affairs director for AAA Michigan, says that a stronger economy and lower gas prices are two reasons why more people are traveling.

“[Gas] prices are down about a dollar per gallon compared to last year,” Hiltz said. “That makes a big difference to folks who are traveling.”

Gas prices have increased by 10% this past week, but still lower than 2014 prices. On Sunday, gas was about $2.62 per gallon, $1.13 less than last year.

AAA predicts that most travelers will pay the cheapest Memorial Day prices in the past five years.

But hotel and car rental rates have increased from last year.

According to AAA, the average car rental is $19 higher than last year, and the average stay at a two-diamond hotel is up 16%.

However, airfare is slightly down. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are two percent cheaper this year, falling to $222.

The auto company also projects that more than 37 million Americans will travel for the weekend. That will be a 4.7 percent increase from 2014 and the most in 10 years.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25. 

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