"After awarding nearly half a million dollars in scholarships and increasing participation eight-fold since 2003, we're adding a new individual round to the national finals competition this year," said Sandra Hughes, AAA Travel vice president. "The students and audience members told us that they love the team-driven finals � which will remain � but that they also want a chance to see who is truly the best of the best. The AAA Travel Challenge's primary focus remains the same though: trying to spark students' interest in travel and the world around them, as well as get them to consider careers in the travel industry."
The three-stage competition kicks off with a 40-question online contest that runs from Jan. 9-17. The top five scorers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete in state finals, with winners receiving prizes and an expense-paid trip for two to compete in the national finals at Universal Orlando in May 2006. The national online contest is open to all U.S. students in grades 9-12 (public, private or home-schooled). Students can pre-register now, take a sample quiz, and find the contest rules at www.aaa.com/TravelChallenge
. "Americans are far less likely to have passports than our global peers and our teens trail their international counterparts for geographic literacy," said Hughes. "Through the AAA Travel High School Challenge, we can open students' eyes to the breadth of travel destinations and experiences in the U.S. and beyond, which we hope will get them excited about traveling and being more knowledgeable global citizens."
Corporate sponsors for the contest are Marriott, Continental Airlines, Universal Orlando, Pleasant Holidays, Holland America Line, MBNA America and Hard Rock Live.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 48 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.