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Fourth of July holiday travel

6/27/2011, 7:49 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--After a major increase in Fourth of July travel last year, the number of Southern Californians expected to hit the roads and airways over the approaching holiday weekend is expected to dip by 2.3 percent from 2010, the Automobile Club of Southern California announced today.

According to the Auto Club, nearly 2.9 million Southland residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more over the Fourth of July weekend, a slight drop from last year's 2.97 million travelers.

The drop comes one year after a large surge in July Fourth travel. Last year's holiday weekend saw a 38.6 percent increase from 2009 in the number of people who traveled, according to the Auto Club.

"Last year we saw a big return of the summer vacation among our members and this year started out well for travel bookings also," according to Filomena Andre, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services. "High gas prices this spring have started to impact travel, but the good news for consumers is that gas prices are continuing to drop and more vacation bargains are being offered this summer because travel providers have available space they need to fill."

Of the people traveling this coming weekend, 79 percent--or 2.29 million--are expected to drive. That's a 2.9 percent decrease from last year's 2.36 million. About 337,000 are expected to fly, a 1.7 percent increase from last year. Another 271,000 people will travel by bus, RV, train, ship or other means, a 2.6 percent drop.

Statewide, 4.66 million people are expected to travel this weekend, down from 4.77 million from last year. Of those, 3.68 million will drive and nearly 542,000 will fly. Nationally, 39 million people are expected to travel, a dip of 2.5 percent.

The top five destinations for Southern California residents are expected to be San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Central Coast and Disneyland.