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Can lakes area tourism survive the high cost of gas?

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Can lakes area tourism survive the high cost of gas?
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Will high gas prices kill the Fourth of July in Detroit Lakes?

Detroit Lakes has long been known as the place to be on the Fourth of July, and we don't expect that to change this year.

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But if gas prices keep rising, who knows what the future will hold?

According to a Zogby Poll released today, most people are "planning a frugal Fourth of July weekend close to home."

The national survey also finds that 75 percent believe gas will hit $5 per gallon this summer.

According to the poll, 65 percent said they will not travel much at all over the three-day weekend, and most plan to spend either less than they did last year or very little over the holiday.

Those age 65 and older are most likely to say they expect to do little traveling during the holiday weekend (78 percent), but more than half of those in all age groups said the same -- including 71 percent of those age 18 to 29 -- the prime age for visiting Detroit Lakes.

The Zogby International telephone poll of 1,005 likely voters nationwide was conducted June 27-30, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

We believe Detroit Lakes and the rest of Becker County will weather the storm this year, since they are within relatively easy reach of Fargo-Moorhead. But there may be fewer visitors from the Twin Cities.

And those that come may spend less.

Excluding travel costs, Zogby reports that most plan to keep other spending in check during the holiday weekend -- 34 percent said they will not spend much at all during the weekend and 20 percent said they will spend less than they did last year.

Slightly more than a third (35 percent) said they plan to spend the same amount as last year and just 11 percent said they plan to increase their spending during the holiday compared to last year.

As gas prices surge past $4 per gallon in many places around the country, a separate Zogby Interactive survey finds 75 percent of Americans anticipate the $5 per gallon fill-up will become the norm sometime this summer -- an increase from 62 percent who said the same in a survey conducted in early May, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

Back then, nearly half of respondents faced with gas prices approaching $4 per gallon had already begun to reduce how much they drive.

In areas where gas prices have topped the $4 per gallon mark, 42 percent said they plan to significantly cut back their driving if gas reaches $4.50 per gallon, and another 19 percent intend to put the brakes on how much driving they do if gas goes beyond $5 per gallon.

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