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Vacations get shorter, but people take more of them

October 4th, 2007 · No Comments

The Great American Vacation is just a memory for a slow-growing number of working people who are increasingly forgoing one- and two-week annual travels for far shorter escapes, like the recent four-day-long Mayberry Days celebration in Mount Airy and the upcoming Autumn Leaves Festival, Oct. 12-14, that attracts sightseers to Surry County’s gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There are myriad reasons for shorter vacations, according to NewsLink, the weekly e-mail newsletter from the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s tourism website, The bigger workloads that have accompanied productivity gains are making it harder for employees to get away for long stretches. Also, the large number of dual-income households mean it’s more difficult for couples to schedule time away together.

“Work habits are the driving force,” said Peter Yesawich, chairman of Ypartnership, a travel-research and marketing company. “When you ask people why they don’t take all the vacation time they are entitled to, or they take shorter vacations, they say they can’t get away from their jobs.”

The trend spans a generation. Spikes in fuel prices and the trauma that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks led to sudden downturns in travel and shorter trips. But the winnowing of the average vacation length has been more gradual and shows no sign of reversing.

Dr. Suzanne Cook, the Travel Industry Association senior vice president of research, said the trend toward shorter trips is glacial but significant. It has altered the way Americans think of time off, turning what was once a long weekend into the typical vacation. “It’s hard to even imagine how vacations can get much shorter than they are now and still resemble vacations,” she said.

Cook said destinations that want to continue drawing longer-staying, bigger-spending travelers should study their demographics. The working-age population isn’t likely to begin taking longer trips, she said, but retiring baby boomers with savings and free time are a good market to pursue.

Tags: Tourism

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