Travelers hitting the road instead
By Gary Gentile
LOS ANGELES Many Californians plan to take to the road this summer, preferring driving vacations to suffering through delays caused by security measures at airports, according to poll results that were to be released yesterday.
The Rediscover California campaign, a public-private partnership to promote summer tourism, will also unveil new booklets outlining driving tours and car maintenance tips. The partnership received some funding from a gasoline company.
According to a telephone survey conducted earlier this month, 38 percent of Californians say the inconvenience of air travel since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 makes them more inclined to plan driving vacations this year. That rate jumps to 45 percent for households that include children ages 18 and younger.
The poll also showed that 62 percent of Californians say they are more likely to take road trips of more than 100 miles within the state sometime over the next six months.
The results lend support to a state initiative to encourage driving tours. An updated version of a booklet outlining popular tours will be issued this month, underwritten by a grant from BP, which markets oil products under the Amoco and Arco brands. The booklet will be available at Arco stations and state parks.
"Yes, 9/11 has had an impact on the tourism industry here as it has nationally," said Norman Williams, assistant secretary of the state's Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency. "But we don't have to wait for people to become more comfortable with flying. We think people will rediscover California through driving now and this survey bears us out."
Forecasts done by the state last fall predicted that travel this spring and summer would be off by 10 percent from last year's levels. A new forecast done in February, after the state launch-ed its Rediscover California campaign, revised that to a drop of between 5 percent and 6 percent.
The phone survey, conducted by StrategyOne, was conducted among 547 Californians June 7-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.