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State Park expecting a very busy holiday period

The Labor Day weekend begins Saturday and officials at Mount Magazine State Park say they are expecting a very busy weekend.

The 60-room Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park has some vacancies for Friday but it’s completely booked up Saturday and Sunday, according to park officials. The 13 guest cabins are also completely booked for the weekend. The 18 campsites are also booked up for the Labor Day weekend.

AAA Travel is predicting a 1.3 percent increase in the number of travelers this Labor Day weekend, based on a survey.

AAA Travel projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 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. Nearly 86 percent of travelers (29.7 million) will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip before summer comes to a close and children head back to school. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday to Monday, Sept. 1.

Historically, when Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans have shown a higher tendency to travel. Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, indicating that Americans are willing to take on debt to finance a vacation. Automobile travel will increase by 1.4 percent this year, with 29.7 million travelers hitting the road. Nearly eight percent of travelers (2.65 million) will travel by air, a one percent increase from last year. Travelers will encounter airfares just two percent higher than last year and daily car rental costs that remain consistent at $51. Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are nine percent higher than last year and Three Diamond hotels are six percent more.

“As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”

Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8 percent year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4 percent. Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year. While economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.

“This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation,” continued Doney. “Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”

Most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010. AAA expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day, though lower prices could help make travel more affordable. Barring a major development, such as a Gulf Coast hurricane, prices are likely to remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years, which will allow travelers to allocate more of their budgets towards travel expenses. The current price of gas is $3.44 compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year. AAA provides the latest gas prices for the nation, states and metro areas at FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.

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