More travelers to hit the road this Memorial Day

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The average airfare for North American flights: $291.04 per round trip, including taxes, according to travel site Kayark.com. That's up 23 percent from last year.

Memorial Day travel is usually a good proxy for the summer. Alan Pisarski, independent consultant for the tourism industry, expects summer travel to be about flat compared with last year. Pisarski says concerns about the economy, primarily about jobs and housing, will keep many people at home. Others will likely travel less than they'd planned.

Douglas Frechtling, chair of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management at George Washington University, is more optimistic. He thinks the drop in unemployment, higher incomes and the drop in gas prices will encourage more people to travel. The increase will be just a "few" percent. But that's important for travel destinations like Provincetown Mass. on the tip of Cape Cod, and Ocean City, Md., where motels and restaurants were forced to close during the economic downturn.

AAA doesn't expect a significant pick up in travel until employment, incomes and consumer spending show greater gains and the housing market turns around. It sees signs of that happening next year. For now, travel remains well below the pre-recession peak of 2005, when 44 million people traveled for Memorial Day weekend.

At least that's good news for people who hate overcrowded beaches.

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