Gas prices and tourism: What effect will it have?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Right now, the average price of gas for a gallon of regular gas in the Richmond area sits at $3.71. That is the same price as Thursday. But, we take a closer look at how gas prices might impact the multi-billion dollar tourism industry, as spring break starts.

The tourism industry is a big money maker here in Virginia. But, some people are saying with these soaring gas prices, their travel plans are already being cut short.

It's the start of spring break and already dozens of cars are whizzing down Interstate 95. Edward Waller plans to be one of them next week, but just not where he originally planned to go.

"I'm planning to go to Williamsburg for the Easter holiday. Usually I'd go to the beach, but no, not at these gas prices," says Edward Waller.

Gas prices that are continuing to go up. "It's a lot of money when you are talking about almost $4 bucks for a gallon of gas," says Waller.

Richard Lewis works with the state tourism group. He says it's hard to tell what impact the gas prices will have on visits to places like Kings Dominion, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and beyond.

"Virginia remains in a good position because we are so close to major markets like DC, Baltimore, Philly, even Raleigh and Charlotte. You can get here on a tank of gas from any of those places," says Richard Lewis.

In fact, the $17 billion industry could get a boost from people like Edward. "More Virginians may stay here in Virginia this year and that may offset people that come from far far away."

We put the question to you on Facebook this morning: Will you travel with the soaring prices?

Carole Randa Vehrs said, "We will still take a few trips and not let the price of gas get in the way of fun."

Angelo minor says, "Will still travel. May have a few less dollars to spend when iIget there, but I'm still going."

"We really hope gas prices will stay down," says Lewis.

Gas prices may keep some drivers off the road, but remember it's difficult to say exactly how high gas prices will go. But, AAA says it's cautiously optimistic the price for gas will not be more than $4 a gallon.

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