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AAA expects less Thanksgiving travel in Minnesota and North Dakota

FARGO - Travel during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be down compared with last year in the region that includes North Dakota and Minnesota, the automobile club AAA said today.

Last year, Thanksgiving holiday travel dropped 25.2 percent nationwide in the wake of the housing and financial sector crises, but only 9 percent in AAA's West North Central Region, which includes the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer said.

This year, travel is expected to be down 2.6 percent in the region, as opposed to a 1.4 percent increase nationwide.

"This region was one of the last to kind of feel the effects of the recession," LaDoucer said. "And now we're still feeling it somewhat, whereas the rest of the country, they got hit harder, quicker, and their travel numbers were down sharply last year and ours were relatively stable in comparison."

Still, he noted 21.5 percent of the region's population is expected to travel 50 miles or more from home over the weekend, well above the national average of 12.6 percent.

LaDoucer said the annual AAA forecast based on research by IHS Global Insight found 71 percent of this region's travelers will visit family and friends.

"That's something with the family values of this region, that falls right in line with that," he said.