During this Fourth of July holiday weekend, nearly 41 million Americans have hit the road, traveling 50 or more miles from home, according to AAA Travel.
That leaves about 275 million Americans who are celebrating at or near their hometowns. What are they doing this weekend, and why?
While the Fourth of July weekend is a peak of the vacation season, it also presents an opportunity for individuals and families to celebrate locally, according to Dr. Bill Norman, professor at Clemson’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department.
Cookouts and in-home celebrations have been and will continue to be part of the weekend, Norman says, but cities and towns are increasingly getting in on the action, sponsoring festivals, fireworks shows, and other activities for those who celebrate close to home.
“Cities and small towns have increased their efforts in creating and bolstering July Fourth activities,” he said, “And local citizens are responding very positively to them.”
People are responding well, Norman adds, because it costs little money to participate in and travel to them, and it also gives communities the chance to come together.
“Not only do you celebrate a wonderful holiday, but you have the chance to celebrate your own community, and that is a great thing,” he says.
The economic benefits to communities who invest in July Fourth activities are obvious, Norman says. But the availability of those local holiday activities also helps spread out the impact of tourism activity across locations and throughout the summer, he adds.
“When local towns and cities have opportunities to celebrate the Fourth close to home, then families can take part in them and travel for out-of-town vacations other times during the summer,” he says.
This fits in with the trend of families taking shorter vacations but creating opportunities to engage in leisure or travel activities several times a year, Norman adds.
Whether you are traveling or staying home this holiday weekend, Norman encourages individuals and families to celebrate wherever they are. “Taking part in holidays like the Fourth of July reinforces good traditions, fosters intergenerational experiences, and strengthens relationships among family and friends,” he says.