By Edwin McDowell
N.Y. Times News Service
Spurred by an improving economy, widespread discounts and
growing consumer confidence, the travel industry is anticipating
America's biggest-ever summer vacation season.
Because the industry defines summer as the three and a half
months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the calendar and the
summer solstice notwithstanding, Summer 1995 is expected to get
off to a roaring start when about 29.8 million travelers take
advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend to visit relatives or
friends, amusement parks or art museums, beaches or baccarat
The American Automobile Association and the Air Transport
Association have predicted that Memorial Day will mark the
beginning of a summer of record crowds on the highways and in the
By Labor Day, if the projections prove correct, Americans will
have taken a record 230 million summer trips of 100 miles or more
away from home, an increase of 2 percent over last summer.
Moreover, industry officials see signs that for the first time
in years, summer vacationers plan to loosen the grip on their
"Americans will take a break from the thrifty '90s and turn
the clock back to the luxury '80s, as high-ticket items will be
on many travelers' `have to have' lists rather than `wish I had'
lists," said William S. Norman, chief executive of the Travel
Industry Association of America, a trade group based in
In keeping with the recent trend toward shorter and more
frequent getaways, 58 percent of the travelers surveyed by the
association said they were planning more than one vacation this
Among this season's multiple vacationers will be Provvi
Panarisi and David Jakubowski, a wife and husband from Queens,
New York City, who find that short vacations fit well with their
separate work schedules.
"We're flying to Boston next Saturday and staying through
Wednesday, while we explore Cambridge and surrounding areas,"
said Panarisi, a sales assistant in New York for Hyatt Hotels and
Resorts. "And in July we'll drive to Cape Cod to spend a few days
at an inn in Falmouth, then visit Martha's Vineyard."
Tourism should also get a lift this summer from the expected
huge influx of Europeans who, after exchanging their strong
currency for cheap dollars, will find that prices at hotels,
restaurants and just about everywhere else resemble a gigantic
And that is good news for Death Valley National Park, which
draws almost a million visitors a year.
"Almost all our summer visitors are Europeans," said Ann
Titus, a spokeswoman for the park, in an interview by telephone
from the park's headquarters in Furnace Creek, Calif. Summer
temperatures at the park average 115 degrees, she said, "but last
year's high hit 128 degrees _ that's why we don't get more
Americans that time of year."
This year, gasoline is 9 cents a gallon higher than last
Memorial Day. But the American Automobile Association said that
gas prices adjusted for inflation are 3 cents less now than in
1990, and 26 cents less than in 1985.
"This summer a vacationing family of two adults and two
children can expect to spend an average of $221. …