Gas prices may boost tourism - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Gas prices may boost tourism

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GALENA, IL (KWWL) - Last month Iowa motorists saw a relief in gas prices. The average slid 13 cents in September. The average price for unleaded gas ranged from $2.36 a gallon to $2.49; that's according to AAA. But what does that mean for tourists? More importantly what does it say about future prices?

Looking down main street in Galena, you can probably guess it's the town's annual Octoberfest.

"Getting out relax a little bit and get away from home. Spend some time here. A weekend away," said one tourist from the Chicago area.

But dig a little deeper and this crowd might be a sign of the economy. Believe it or not there may be something fueling these tourist.

Energy trading advisor Jim Ritterbusch says gas in July 2008 reached a record high, $4 a gallon. That average dropped to a dollar $1.60 last December.

"Those numbers indicated a degree of economic uncertainly in the markets," said Ritterbusch.

But now the average price of gas is about $2.50 a gallon.

"By in large this has been more of a sideways trend for four months now, I certainly don't anticipate a downward spiral," said Rittenbusch.

Something these visitors find relieving.

"We tend to buy more when we know we're not gonna be in a crunch as much," said another Chicago tourist.

But they say they're spending more because it costs less. And experts say that cost could eventually even out and give more confidence in the economy.

"Whenever you get a sharp decline in gas prices for the consumer it's like taking a tax away. So as a result that frees up money for consumers to position where they want," said Rittenbusch.

He also says ultimately prices depend on how much consumers buy. He expects prices to even out in the coming months.

"The consumer is generally going to be looking at good news on balance. I don't see a return to $4 a gal anytime soon," said Rittenbusch.

Making weekend trips to Galena much more appealing to tourists.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires
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