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More people stayed at park this summer

The number of visitors staying at the Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park, located 19 miles south of Paris, has increased this summer compared to last year, according to Park Superintendent Becky Bariola.

And, the park is expected to be very busy this weekend. Labor Day, the holiday that traditionally signals the end of summer, is Monday, Sept. 2. Labor Day weekend will begin Friday.

Bariola said Monday the 60-room Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park is 90 percent booked for Friday and Saturday and 100 percent booked for Sunday and Monday. The 18 campground spots are booked and there’s one cabin rental available. There are 13 guest cabins at the park.

This summer, the park has hosted 9,962 visitors at the lodge since Memorial Day, Bariola said. That’s an increase in guests over the 9,839 people who stayed at the lodge between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year.

“Our group bookings have increased compared to individual bookings,” Bariola said.

The AAA is predicting that the number of travelers hitting the roads this Labor Day weekend will increase.

The 2013 AAA Labor Day Travel Forecast projects 4.2 percent more Americans, an estimated 34 million, will go more than 50 miles this year than in 2012. The total is a new post-recession high with the most Labor Day travelers since 2008.

AAA credits the upward projection to an improving economy, increased consumer spending and the recovering housing market.

“For many Americans, their home is also their biggest asset, as home prices improve in many parts of the country more families are feeling comfortable about traveling,” AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet said in a statement.

Another factor that may affect the increase is the date of Labor Day this year, Sept. 2. Americans have shown a higher inclination to travel when the holiday falls earlier in the month, AAA has found.

“The three highest-volume holiday travel years since 2000 have come in 2008, 2003, and 2002, when Labor Day fell on either Sept. 1 or 2,” the report notes.

The average Labor Day traveler will go nearly 600 miles round trip and spend $804, $55 more than in 2012, AAA determined.

Of those traveling, 85 percent will take to the roads and 8 percent will fly.

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