- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—BLUEFIELD — Drops in West Virginia’s gasoline price at the pump is helping spur some last minute out-of-state trips as well as bringing in more out-of-state visitors.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has dropped for 12 days in a row, which is the longest consecutive decline since January, according to a press release by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Monday’s national average price was $2.71 per gallon, which was a nickel per gallon less than one week ago and seven cents less than one month ago. Most drivers were paying the lowest July prices since 2009 and were saving 82 cents per gallon at the pump compared to a year ago.

The average price Monday for gas in West Virginia was $2.68 a gallon, 6 cents less than a week ago, 14 cents less than a month ago and 94 cents less than a year ago, AAA officials said.

West Virginia was seventh out of the 10 states with the biggest drops in gasoline prices. The biggest drop was seen in Ohio where prices dropped 17 cents to $2.46, according to the AAA.

Lower gasoline prices could be persuading more people to travel, a local AAA official said. In neighboring Bluefield,Va. gas prices were approximately $2.29 cents a gallon as of Monday.

“What we’re seeing is last minute type decisions being made,” Laura Gooch, travel coordinator of the Bluefield AAA said. “Is it due to the gasoline prices? Maybe. Is it due to our economy stabilizing a little bit? We are finding here is that people are trying right before school starts to get away for a few days whether they are going to the beach or whether they are going to theme parks.”

Destinations like Dollywood and Splash Country near Pigeons Forge, Tenn. have been popular, Gooch said.

“I just had a call today where a family has decided they are leaving today, and where can they go?” she recalled.

Lower gasoline prices could also bring more visitors into the region, Gooch stated. Visitors to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mercer and McDowell Counties are taking advantage of the prices to make the trip into southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

“Absolutely. I happened to be in Bramwell a couple of weeks ago. At the Bramwell Cafe there were all kinds of people,” she said. “I asked some of them where they were from. One was an attorney from North Carolina and his son, who’s an engineer. A couple from South Carolina were eating lunch.”

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(c)2015 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

Visit the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.) at bdtonline.com

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