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AAA survey: People starting to travel again

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- Although dropping off sharply immediately follow the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, travel-related activities of all types have been on the rise ever since, according to an American Automobile Association travel survey released Wednesday.

The Travel Barometer by AAA Auto Club South, covering Georgia, Florida and the western two-thirds of Tennessee, indicates that travel bookings by auto club members began rebounding in the week after the disasters. The club serves more than 3.4 million members and millions more who visit from other states. Overall travel sales, including air, tours and cruises, for the week September 14 were at 54 percent of 2000 levels for the same period. They climbed between 8 percent and 10 percent over the next two weeks, although most travelers opted to drive.

The travel industry was hit hard September 11. CNN's John Zarrella reports the southeast U.S. is seeing some recovery (October 3)

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A breakdown of results indicates:

-- Sales of airline tickets for the week of the attack fell to 40 percent of 2000 levels, but increased by 30 percent in the two weeks that followed.

-- Based on the number of AAA members requesting auto travel routings, requests were up 7 percent over the same period in 2000.

-- Of all the travel categories, attraction ticket sales saw the biggest drop during the week of the attacks, falling to 38 percent of 2000 levels. However, this category also is making a faster comeback, and for the week ending September 28, sales were about 75 percent of last year's levels. -- Hotel reservations were relatively unaffected, remaining steady during the week of the attack and increasing 30 percent for the week ending September 28, mirroring identical levels in 2000. However, AAA noted that for the week before the attacks, hotel reservations were already 25 percent below the same period last year.

In Miami Beach's trendy South Beach, Edison Hotel owner Judith Berson said there are signs of more tourism activity.

"We are now up to 50 percent occupancy. Still not what it should be. It's better than being empty, and at least the maids can still work and the front desk can still work," Berson said.

However, while occupancy rates are slowly climbing, room rates are declining, she said. A $139 room can be had for $49.


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