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Lois Blattenbauer of Glyndon fills up her vehicle Monday at Petro in Moorhead. Carrie Snyder/Forum News Service

Gas prices seen as unlikely to affect holiday travel

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FARGO, N.D. — Despite gas prices being at their highest levels since 2008, representatives from AAA and other travel associations do not expect holiday travel to be affected.

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Monday’s national average price for gas is $3.67 per gallon, up nearly 20 cents from last year’s price of $3.48. That total is still considerably less than the $4.10 per gallon charged in 2008.

AAA projects 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, a 1.9 percent increase from the 40.3 million who traveled last year. At least eight in 10 are expected to travel by automobile.

Gas prices typically tend to fall in June when refineries return to full capacity following routine heavy maintenance conducted in April and May. The higher prices are being blamed on continuing violence in Iraq.

The current average in North Dakota is $3.67, up 4 cents from last year’s average of $3.63. Fargo’s average is $3.51, compared to $3.40 in 2013.

Gene LaDoucer, spokesman for AAA North Dakota, said the increase is unlikely to change travel plans.

“For a weekend getaway, that type of an increase is not likely to cancel a family vacation,” LaDoucer said. “It’s just not that big of an impact. They can make up for it in other ways like packing a lunch or forgoing a souvenir purchase.”

Sara Otte Coleman, director of the tourism division of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, agrees.

In fact, she said all major organizations that project summer travel are expecting increases in both days traveled and dollars spent. The U.S. Travel Association projects a growth of 4.3 percent in total travel expenditures in the U.S. in 2014.

“I think an improving economy, job security and consumer confidence are going to lead to a strong summer travel season,” Otte Coleman said.

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