You may not have noticed but gasoline prices have steadily gone up over that past several months. The AAA of Western & Central NY is predicting that gas will reach the $3/gallon mark this year (possibly by Memorial Day). Right now, the average price of gas in New York State is $2.89 and the average in Buffalo is $2.79. One year ago, gasoline was $2.42/gallon.
The increases are being caused by OPEC production cuts, lower supplies, and the switch over to summer blends that always creates a bump-up in price each year. Crude prices have not been this high since December 2014 and that is combined with record springtime demand for gasoline.
Will it affect summer travel plans?
As long as it does not get to $3.50 or $4.00 per gallon, "probably not," said Angela Wawrzynek from the AAA's Tonawanda Office.
However, tourists from Pittsburgh, Pa., who were visiting Niagara Falls, tell 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that gasoline is already $2.99/gallon in that area.
"It is horrible and will get even worse this summer," said one of the tourists at Prospect Point.
Close to 90% of visitors to Niagara Falls come by car. Andrea Czopp, Director of Communications for Destination Niagara USA, does not think higher gas prices will affect the number of visitors because it is offset by the cheaper cost of attractions in this area.
Niagara Falls will be launching a new, free shuttle service this year to help move tourists around without cost. The shuttle is expected to begin regular service in May.
Cheap gas over the past few years has sparked a nationwide buying boom for recreational vehicles like travel trailers. Locally, several RV dealers have seen record sales and that meant steady growth for camping-related businesses like the Niagara Falls KOA on Grand Island - which is expecting more campers this year than last.
"Overall, KOA's are seeing about an 14% increase this year," said Ginnie Raeder, general manager of the Niagara Falls KOA
The downside is RV's use a lot more fuel to drive and tow. Raeder believes people will still travel and use their family RV's but will stay closer to home.
Ed Reilly has more in his report.