U.S. year-end travel seen up 3.1 percent: AAA (Reuters)

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The number of Americans traveling for the end of year holidays this year is expected to rise 3.1 percent from 2009 because of a modestly improved economic environment and pent-up demand, travel and auto group AAA said on Wednesday.

Close to 92.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the year-end holidays, which AAA defined as falling between December 23 2010 and January 2, 2011.

This is a modest increase from the 89.5 million who traveled for the holidays last year.

About 3.2 percent more Americans will take to the roads this year; those flying will rise by 2.8 percent, the group said. This holiday season will see 93 percent of travelers taking their cars.

The national average gasoline price has climbed recently and is currently above $2.90 cents per gallon, 25 cents higher than a year ago, AAA said in its report.

However, consumer optimism has increased despite higher gasoline prices and this resilience is expected to persist through the holiday season, the group added.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by David Gregorio)

It, U.S. year-end travel seen up 3.1 percent: AAA
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