Leisure travel slower than usual, but picking up steam in Macon

The vacation travel industry is down but not out.

"We are definitely trending slower than we did last year, but pleasantly, surprisingly it’s pretty steady," said Vanessa Jones, division manager for the Macon office of AAA Auto Club South on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard.

People still are traveling, but instead of doing exotic trips they might normally have taken, they are taking “more of the shorter cruises, the more affordable cruises,” Jones said.

Travel consultant Nancy Wells with Ship & Shore Travel Agency on Vineville Avenue, said the fourth quarter of 2008 was pretty bad.

"Everybody just froze up," Wells said. "They didn’t do hardly anything."

If people booked trips, it was the more upscale traveler who booked trips to Europe, Alaska and upscale cruises, she said.

But leisure travel is beginning to trend slightly upward, according to a news release this week from the U.S. Travel Association. The U.S. Traveler Sentiment Index rose to 90.2 in February 2009 from 78.2 in October 2008 due to an increase in the perceived "affordability of travel," the release stated. It was the first increase in the index since January 2008.

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