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Labor Day Draws Heavy Tourism to Twin Ports

Updated: 08/30/2014 10:26 PM
Created: 08/30/2014 4:55 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
blesavage@wdio.com

AAA Travel predicts 34.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and a 1.3 percent increase over 2013. 

Duluth Communication and Policy Director Dan Fanning said he hopes Duluth sees its own increase in travelers during the holiday weekend. 

"We always know the Labor Day weekend is going to be good for our economy," Fanning said. "It's a good way to usher out the summer tourism, but it's also a great way to usher in the next phase which is the college students return and the next aspects are kicking in so it's a great weekend for our economy. No question."

Fanning said overall in 2013, Duluth saw the highest numbers of out-of-town visitors in the city's history. He said a heavy flow of visitors in August and July this year will make up for what he called a slightly slower June. 

One thing that could help bring up those numbers is low gas prices. This year, rates at the pump are lower than during last year's Labor Day Weekend. AAA reports it's also the country is also seeing the lowest gas prices for late August since 2010. 

While gas prices are on the decline, airfare and hotel costs are on the rise. AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase six percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $171 per night compared to $161 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen nine percent with an average cost of $125 per night. 

Airfares have risen two percent with the average round-trip, discounted fare for the top 40 U.S. Routes costing $129, up from $214 last year. 

With added costs in a few travel-related expenses, some families planned ahead on how to make this last-minute vacation before school starts fit their vacationing budget. 

"We've known this was coming all summer so we saved for it and made our reservations early because we knew it was going to be busy," Jay Olson of Monticello said. 

Fanning pointed to a number of free activities for families to take part in over the holiday weekend. He said Duluth-Superior's Pride Festival and Cloquet's Labor Day parade are some highlights in the Northland. 

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