Memorial Day weekend bookings stronger than the weather forecastBy MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader May 24. 2017 10:05PM
Gas prices are up nearly a nickel over last year, hotel bookings are solid and the forecast for the Memorial Day looks like a split decision.
“Bookings are strong and I think everyone is pretty optimistic,” said Mike Somers, CEO and president of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association.
The director of the state Division of Travel and Tourism reported the same Wednesday.
“Weather is always a factor, but anecdotally from the industry, we know that hotel bookings are up,” said Victoria Cimino.
The unofficial kickoff to summer won’t usher in summertime temperatures.
“The beach itself, it is truly weather-driven,” said B.J. “Doc” Noel, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. But that doesn’t mean people won’t head to Hampton Beach.
“People like lobster — whether it’s 70 degrees or 30 degrees,” Noel said.
Fireworks are planned at Hampton Beach at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Friday is forecast to be wet over much of the state with high temperatures in the 50s from Manchester to Conway. Saturday turns sunny with 60s along the coast and around 70 in many other areas. Partly sunny conditions are forecast Sunday with possible showers on Memorial Day with both days topping out in the 60s, according to the National Weather Service.
Luciano Chira, manager of the 15-room Atlantic Breeze Suites in Hampton, expected a busy weekend.
“Pretty much booked,” he said. “Let’s hope the weather is going to catch up.”
Gas prices averaged $2.31 a gallon for regular unleaded in New Hampshire Wednesday, according to AAA, up nearly 5 cents from a year ago.
Cimino said campgrounds through the state park system are 92 percent full for the weekend.
“Even if it’s a little bit murky (in terms of weather), we’re optimistic we’re going to have a strong weekend,” she said.
State rooms-and-meals taxes are up about 5 percent through March of this fiscal year, Cimino said.
“We really sort of judge our success in this (travel) arena on rooms-and-meals tax revenue,” Cimino said.
Memorial Day weekend ranks as the fourth busiest travel weekend of the year after Fourth of July, Columbus Day and Labor Day weekends in New Hampshire, she said.
Pat Moody with AAA Northern New England said consumer confidence is improving.
“We’ve seen over the past year, travel in general and holidays travel is on the rise,” Moody said. “People are getting out there and traveling more.”
AAA predicts 1.77 million New Englanders will travel between Thursday and Monday, an increase of 2.8 percent and the highest since 2005.
The Common Man Roadside, restaurants operating in highway service areas in Hooksett, typically sees a 35 percent increase in visitors over Memorial Day Weekend, according to Erica Murphy, director of communications and community relations for the Common Man Family of Restaurants.
The group has a number of restaurants in central New Hampshire. “For our Lakes Region locations, certainly everyone is shaking off the winter and spring blues,” Murphy said.