AAA’s forecasts are “encouraging and pretty consistent” with other measures of discretionary spending that also have improved, including new automobile sales, said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit. Americans’ increased willingness or ability to take vacations is “very positive,” supported by broader hiring gains, a higher level of comfort in their financial situations from stock gains and some degree of pent-up demand, he said. One indication of the “healthy return of leisure travel” is reservations for Saturday nights, at almost 83 percent occupancy in July, Freitag said. “This speaks to very strong demand on weekends.” Consumer travel makes up about 30 percent of total U.S. hotel bookings, and while there’s “still a little bit of the have and have not” among American consumers, economic growth in some countries outside the U.S. has been a “tremendous benefit” to the industry, said Bill Crow, an analyst in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Raymond James & Associates Inc. “It’s been a terrific summer from a lodging perspective,” which could provide an “upside surprise” when many publicly traded hoteliers report earnings next month. Get the full story at Bloomberg