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Low gas prices help drive Memorial Day weekend travel
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Memorial Day weekend travelers will take to the road in large numbers enticed in part by gasoline prices that have steadily remained in the low $2 range in Gainesville and other parts of the country.

Memorial Day weekend travelers will take to the road in large numbers enticed in part by gasoline prices that have steadily remained in the low $2 range in Gainesville and other parts of the country.

Motorists can expect to see those relatively low gasoline prices through the rest of the summer, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

“There will be small fluctuations, but I would say that gas prices will likely stay within 20 and 30 cents from where they are today, and they could be higher or lower,” DeHaan said. “I think this is what we’re going to see much of the summer, with gas prices in Gainesville in the low to mid-$2 range.”

DeHaan offered his forecast with the caveat that hurricane season begins June 1, and all it takes to disrupt his prediction is for a major storm to strike and wreak havoc in an area near refineries.

The lowest gasoline prices in Gainesville range from $2.13 to $2.19 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.

DeHaan said oil prices have been steadily in a range between $45 and $55 a barrel, and the consistent cost has helped keep prices low.

“Just a few weeks ago the price of oil was $45, earlier this week it was up at $52 and today it’s down 5 percent and back to $49 a barrel,” DeHaan said Thursday.    

AAA expects 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home through Monday for Memorial Day, according to AAA South spokesman Garrett Townsend. He said 88 percent of those travelers will be driving to their destinations.

Townsend said the number of Georgia travelers is expected to top 1.17 million, a 2.5 percent increase over last year.

Vicky Evans, a travel sales development executive with AAA, said that travel bookings in Georgia are up almost 12 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

“Higher confidence, rising wages and recent gas price declines have bolstered consumer spending, leaving many Americans with more money to spend on travel this Memorial Day,” Evans said.

Townsend said 2017 marks the third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel.

DeHaan said it’s no coincidence that the rise in Memorial Day travel coincides with the drop of gasoline prices from the mid- to high-$3 per gallon range in 2015.

“It’s been a great two-and-a-half-year run,” DeHaan said.

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