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Thanksgiving travel expected to be high despite gas prices

    Local auto service establishments are seeing more customers at the garage door as people tune-up for the holiday weekend. John Godbee, one of the managers of Express Tune & Lube on Main Street, said business has picked up recently.
    "The last few days have been real busy," said Godbee. "We're thankful for the business."
    Bobby Davis, manager of Jiffy Lube on Brannen Avenue, said they've also seen an increase in sales this past week.
    "Of course," said Davis. "Our average car count goes up around 20 or 30 cars per day."
    According to AAA, 1.3 million Georgians will be traveling over the holiday, with the vast majority of them -  87.5 percent - traveling by car. Randy Bly, public relations director for AAA, said since traveling in the Southeast is expected to be up two percent over last year, gas prices are really not affecting travel.
    "Thanksgiving is a traditional family holiday and, in our experience, people travel regardless of gas prices," said Bly.
    The average price of gas in Georgia this past week was $3.029 per gallon. That is up 42 percent from last Thanksgiving's price of $2.13. Bly doesn't anticipate the price will fluctuate much over the weekend.
    TripAdvisor, a large online travel community, said that 37 percent of Americans are planning to travel on Thanksgiving weekend, according to their survey of more than 2,000 people. While this is about the same number as last year, around 59 percent are expected to drive, up three percent from a year ago, while airline travel is down slightly to 37 percent from 41 percent last year.
    Last Wednesday, the Energy Information Association released its weekly report which said that U.S. refinery output and crude oil inventories were up for the week. Unless today's report is much different, prices should remain stable.
    It is likely that crude oil, trading just above $95 Tuesday, would not be trading at such a high level if the dollar had not fallen so much in relation to foreign currencies. According to oil insiders, without the combination of a weak dollar and the fear factor of an unstable Middle East - including the possibility of conflict with Iran - the price of oil could be $20 to $30 cheaper per barrel, taking the price of gasoline back down to last year's levels.

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