L.A. Now

Spending on July 4 vacation expected to rise slightly

Americans continue to open their wallets wider for travel, with U.S. vacationers expected to spend $15.8 billion for the upcoming July 4 weekend, a 1.7% increase over last year's holiday, according to the U.S. Travel Assn.

The trade group for the country's travel industry estimated that vacationers will spend an average of $378 each on holiday trips this year, up from $374 in 2014.

The U.S. Travel Assn. did not estimate the total number of travelers for the upcoming weekend, but it cited a forecast by AAA that said 41.9 million Americans will travel for the Independence Day weekend, a 0.7% increase over last year.

A majority of holiday travelers, about 85%, will drive to their holiday destinations, according to AAA estimates. The good news for July 4th road warriors is that the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.76, down from $3.67 per gallon a year ago.

In the Los Angeles area,  the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.56, down from $4.17 a year ago, according to AAA.

The U.S. Travel Assn. used the annual July 4 forecast to press elected officials to invest more in maintaining and upgrading roads and airports.

"Barbecues, picnics and road trips are staples of American summer vacation, but it seems being stuck in traffic jams and delayed on the tarmac are becoming equally a part of the tradition," said Roger Dow, president of the trade group.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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