By LYNDA EDWARDS
The Associated Press
JACKSON – The average cost of a gallon of gas at Mississippi service stations is now $1.828, up about 13 cents from only a few weeks ago.
The pump price average at mid-April was $1.697.
The American Automobile Association predicts that higher prices will not stand between Mississippians and the road to Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, casinos, Delta juke joints, water parks – or any of the state's other attractions.
And AAA does not believe soaring fuel prices will deter tourists from neighboring states.
“We've seen no decline in day trips in any of the Southern states,” AAA district manager Stuart Hodes said Wednesday. “There's a psychological component to how Americans react to gas prices. It's a highly politicized commodity.
“When McDonald's raises prices, no one complains to their congressman about the price of Happy Meals. But drivers get mad, complain at the gas pump, blame politicians. Yet they still think it's worth the extra dollars to fill the tank and go on a road trip,” Hodes said.
That is especially true in Mississippi, where public transportation is almost nonexistent and a driver can cross the state in about four hours.
AAA surveys over 60,000 self-serve gas stations nationwide to calculate prices. The national average cost of a gallon of regular gas is $1.93. The South averages about ten cents less, with Texas offering the best bargain: $1.798 per gallon.
Hodes said he was surprised to find that on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the average price actually dropped this week from $1.83 to $1.80.
Hodes thought fuel prices might slow European tourists who see their airline fares increasing because of fuel costs. But Elvis Presley Museum director Dick Guyton said British, German, Belgian and Dutch tourists are still making pilgrimages to the rock 'n' roller's Tupelo birthplace.
Guyton estimates that Europeans make up 45 percent of his tourists. “Our British tourists say that they gain about 18 cents on every dollar because the value of the Euro is so strong,” Guyton said.
He said that the museum draws 60,000 paying tourists annually. “About 20,000 more who stroll around the grounds for free,” Guyton said.