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GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel.

"For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated thatís not true, especially as gas prices continue to climb," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.com, in a release.

In a recent national survey by GasBuddy, just 58 percent of motorists surveyed said they would take a road trip this summer, down 24 percent from last year. Just under 40 percent of respondents said that high gas prices were a major contributing factor, up from 19 percent a year ago.

"(National) gas prices are expected to hit $2.95 per gallon on Memorial Day, a 65-cent increase over Memorial Day last year, costing motorists $1 billion more from Thursday to Monday alone," GasBuddy said.

The study found that the top fear among its respondents was paying too much for gas, followed by car troubles and finding a clean restroom while on the road.

It also found that only about 30 percent of respondents are planning on driving more than 500 miles for their holiday jaunt, a drop from last yearís 56 percent.

RELATED COVERAGE: High gas prices wonít dampen Floridiansí Memorial Day driving plans

State gas prices averaged $2.82 per gallon Monday according to AAA, The Auto Club Group, about the same as last week. Tampa Bay prices were $2.76 per gallon, down four cents over the week. Nationally, gas averaged $2.93 per gallon.

Tampa Bay is tied for the cheapest gas in Florida metro areas, according to AAA. Punta Gorda and Orlando also averaged $2.76 per gallon Monday.

The relatively high prices, AAA said, come from high crude oil costs and stations switching over to summer blends, as well as tighter supply for gas.

Unlike GasBuddy, AAA doesnít expect holiday travel to be negatively impacted by gas prices, predicting that about 2 million Floridians will travel by car for Memorial Day weekend.

"Regardless of higher prices at the pump, AAA still forecasts the most holiday road trippers in more than a dozen years," AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said. "Those with smaller gasoline budgets will find other ways to finance their travel plans, like cutting back on discretionary expenses like shopping or dining out."

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Despite current pump prices, some hotels arenít concerned that their weekend guest count will be impacted.

"We are not worried about that," Sara Haslam, manager at the Miramar Resort on St. Pete Beach, said. "Weíre filled up for the holiday weekend, so it will not be affecting us."

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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