SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Memorial Day typically marks the unofficial start of summer, celebrated with gatherings of family and friends or a road trip, but this year could be different.

AAA says for the first time in 20 years, the travel organization will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19. Preliminary reports suggest fewer people will hit the road compared to years past for what is considered the unofficial start of the summer travel season.

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In 2019, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day weekend, that was the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA started tracking holiday travel volumes nearly two decades ago.

AAA Utah spokesperson, Aldo Vazquez says “With physical distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”

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However, this doesn’t mean Americans’ aren’t planning for future trips. In fact, AAA reports their online bookings have modestly been on the rise since mid-April. With Utah slowly but steadily easing restrictions along with other states, AAA Utah says they expect vacationers will gravitate to road trips and family bookings to destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Shortly thereafter, assuming international travel restrictions are lifted, AAA expects to see demand for a wider range of international travel.

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Vazquez commented that “the saying goes that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Americans are taking that first step toward their next journey from the comfort of their home by researching vacation opportunities and talking with travel agents. We are seeing that Americans are showing a preference and inspiration to explore all that our country has to offer as soon as it is safe to travel.”

For now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C-D-C) asks that Americans continue to stay home when possible and avoid nonessential travel and follow state recommended guidelines to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

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