The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Memorial Day travel: The top destinations for local getaways

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Fewer Southern Californians will go out of town during the Memorial Day weekend due to concerns about the sluggish economy. Where are they most likely to go?

The top destinations for Southern Californian travelers are San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Central Coast and the Grand Canyon, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The destinations were determined by a survey of the club's travel agents.

About 2.5 million Southern Californians will travel this weekend, down 2 percent from a year ago, according to the Automobile Club.

"We have an up and down economy," said spokeswoman Elaine Beno. "We have the impact on the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and we have 30-year low in the percentage of working-aged people in the workforce."

Beno said all those conditions have led Southern Californians to make fewer travel plans.

Beno said the number of locals traveling by car will remain about the same, helped by lower gas prices during the Memorial Day holiday, compared to last year. There will be fewer Southern Californians choosing to travel by plane, trains or buses, she said.

Each year, San Diego has more than 32 million visitors, with about 43 percent coming from Southern California, said Joe Timko, a spokesman for the San Diego Tourism Authority. Travelers spending the day in San Diego generally spend $80 to $85, he said.

Timko said tourists are drawn to San Diego's beaches and Memorial Day weekend is also when places like the San Diego Zoo unveil their new exhibits for the year.

"The reason many people flock to our city is we're convenient. We're very accessible from other Southern California region," Timko said. "We appeal to many types of visitors from family travelers to baby boomers to young adults."

Even though many Southern Californians may be staying at home this Memorial Day weekend, expect to see more travelers passing through the Los Angeles International Airport. The airport said it expects more than 706,600 travelers passing through LAX during Memorial Day weekend, up 4.6 percent from last year.

Airport officials said in a statement that the increase is due to airline mergers and acquisitions that have consolidated flights and filled them closer to capacity. In addition, officials said there's been more interest from tourists from the Asia-Pacific region.

With contributions from Ed Joyce

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