A new study looking into how family travel patterns found that trips of two or more nights away from home are half as likely for families that need to get students back to school before Labor Day, and FOX 9 News asked the director of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center to talk about it.
Elton Mykerezi of the University of Minnesota's Department of Applied Economics, used American Time Use Survey data to research specifically how family summer travel patterns change when you have kids going to school before and after Labor Day.
The study found that family trips of two or more nights away from home decreased by 50 percent in August or September when school starts were moved to before Labor Day. Also, family overnight travel between May and September decreased by 30 percent when school starts were moved to before Labor Day.
The study took actual travel data from the American Time Use Survey instead of hypothetical questioning about travel. Now, the results are being given to policy makers who are considering moving the start of school before Labor Day.
The tourism industry and the Minnesota State Fair are the two biggest lobbyists when it comes to starting the school year after Labor Day; however, more and more districts are expanding the school year. Those decisions are made at the local level, not the state level.
For a state that is below the national average in number of school days -- and for a country that is way behind other countries in number of school days, is another week or two of tourism season more important than another 10 days of school?
"Policy makers considering school start dates are weighing important matters for the public good," said Ingrid Schneider, director of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center. "Everyone wants strong educational outcomes, and the tourism industry wants to remain a successful economic force. We wanted to bring objective and comparative data to this issue."