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Published: Sunday, 5/14/2006

Many area drivers won't let gas costs put brakes on trips

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
In April, the price at this Citgo station on Airport Highway and Eber Road topped $3 a gallon for all grades of gasoline. Many in the area say they'll grin and bear the high cost of gas this summer, rather than forgo planned vacations. In April, the price at this Citgo station on Airport Highway and Eber Road topped $3 a gallon for all grades of gasoline. Many in the area say they'll grin and bear the high cost of gas this summer, rather than forgo planned vacations.
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Gasoline prices at historic highs may be putting the pinch on family budgets, but for many people in the Toledo area, the annual family vacation trip this summer appears to be sacrosanct.

Our trips are planned, and we re still going, Perrysburg resident Jeff Harris said Friday of a family trip to North Carolina s Outer Banks on his horizon.

It s going to be a road-trip summer, and I don t think the price of gas will change anything, agreed Jim Sabovik, a fellow Perrysburg resident. It s painful, but we ll just grin and bear it.

Self-serve, unleaded regular gasoline prices climbed back into the mid-$2.90s in metro from agency staff that requests for TripTiks the travel directions and services guides that AAA assembles for its members are up this year compared with 2005, and many of them are for long-distance drives out West.

It kind of goes different from what you might believe, Ms. Ghesquiere said. But what are we going to do? Stop driving? We re going to go anyway. People are planning vacations way in advance.

Holland resident John McCarty said he and his family goes to Traverse City every year.

It s one tank up, one tank over [while we re there], and one tank back, he said. So at this point, it s still more of an irritant than a real problem.

That s not to say that gasoline prices aren t inducing travel cutbacks. But among several people interviewed, the prevailing sentiment was that routine trips were the trips to cut not the special ones.

I take less trips to visit my family, said Molly Corfman, a Toledo native who now lives in Cleveland.

For summer vacation, she said, I m planning to go to Europe this year rather than travel in the States because I won t be driving.

Craig Cheney of Monclova Township said he has become more careful about doing errands on his way home from work in downtown Toledo, rather than making special trips.

But a Memorial Day weekend trip to Chicago with friends is still on though the group might try to find one or two more people to go and help share expenses.

Some are feeling the squeeze more than others.

Bill Tokar of Sylvania said that not only is he reducing the frequency of visits to relatives in the Detroit area, he s also cutting back his plans for camping trips to northern lower Michigan.

I normally go up north for a few weeks each year, Mr. Tokar said, adding that had he not bought plane tickets to Utah several months back before airfares went up, he probably wouldn t be making that trip either.

That s going to be my only vacation, he said.

Northwood resident Andrea Peters was going to make a trip to Georgia on Memorial Day weekend, but it s too expensive. It s $32 to fill up my little car now.

At Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, officials expect a shift in where their business comes from this summer, but we really don t know what the impact will be for overall volume, public relations director Robin Innes said.

We expect to pick up some additional guests from this area Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other states nearby. Conversely, we ll probably lose some customers from across the nation who aren t traveling so far, Mr. Innes said.

He declined to discuss advance booking data from the amusement park s on-site lodgings, which might be an indicator of likely long-distance visitors.

However, the park s decision to reduce its basic admission charge this year could help boost attendance.

Merle Madrid, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development s Travel and Tourism Office, said that if high gasoline prices are causing vacationers to adjust their plans, that should be a plus for the local tourism industry.

Of overnight visitors at Ohio lodgings, he said, 36 percent are from the state and another 34 percent are from states bordering Ohio.

Generally, when gas prices peak, it s a good thing for Ohio tourism because people stay closer to home, Mr. Madrid said.

Contact David Patch at:dpatch@theblade.comor 419-724-6094.



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