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Holiday travel expected to remain steady, industry report says

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Despite the economic downturn, a survey shows most Americans will keep their holiday travel plans so they can maintain tradition with family and friends, the Travel Industry Assn. said today.

"Even though there are many apparent reasons to stay home this year, Americans really value travel and will stick to it as much as they can," said Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research at the association, a Washington, D.C.- based trade organization that represents the $740-billion U.S. travel industry.

"Most people traveling during the holidays feel the time and money they spend is a small price to pay to be with the people they love," Cook said.

The industry association based its conclusions on an online survey of 2,256 people last week by Harris Interactive, Rochester, N.Y.-based market research firm.

Holiday travel costs are up 25% to 30% from last year, said Drew Patterson, vice president of marketing for, , a leading travel search engine.

Still, 73% of people surveyed said they will continue with travel plans this holiday season, according to an October survey by

But travelers are looking for other ways to save, including booking flights with longer layovers, planning shorter trips, and staying with relatives or friends instead of a hotel.

Falling gas prices may also stimulate more driving this holiday season.

"Now that gas prices are down, that certainly gives people a lot more options," said Marie Montgomery, spokeswoman for AAA. "Maybe they can go a little farther, maybe they can spend another day ... they have that many more options when gas prices are lower."

Gas prices in Los Angeles fell nearly 30 cents last week to their lowest levels of the year, according to AAA’s gas watch. The average price of gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $2.73 a gallon on Friday -- 29 cents less than the previous week and 81 cents less than last month.

Ho is a Times staff writer.

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