New Hampshire’s tourism industry is preparing for a busy Memorial Day weekend.
The three-day holiday is typically the fourth-busiest weekend for tourism in the state, and it's the unofficial start to the summer tourist season. The state Division of Travel and Tourism Development says 40 percent of New Hampshire’s annual visitors come during the summer months.
The official forecast from the Institute for New Hampshire Studies estimates 575,000 visitors over the holiday weekend, spending some $91 million. Those figures would make for a 3 percent increase over last year, which is in line with state projections for the summer travel season as a whole.
Those in the industry point to a rebound in consumer confidence and the drop in gas prices as factors driving increased holiday tourism. "We’ve got low gas prices this year, about a dollar less than last year," says Victoria Cimino, director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development. And, Cimino adds, "we have a great weather forecast."
The drop in gas prices is expected to play a role in how travelers get to their destinations this year. Dan Goodman of AAA Northern New England says while travel as a whole is likely to increase, car travel is expected to rise, while travel by other methods may decrease. "“In New England, we’re going to exceed the national average and see an increase of almost 5 percent of auto travel," Goodman says. AAA's Memorial Day Travel Forecast predicts a 3.6 percent fall in travel by other methods, such as train, bus and cruise ship.