Strong dollar helped fuel US travelers’ interest in Europe: Travel Weekly

American travelers are shopping in Europe this year, with the dollar hitting its highest value against the euro in two decades amid increased travel to the continent.

Industry analysts say the strong dollar has helped fuel already huge demand for Europe this summer, while travel advisers have used it as a sales tool, telling customers it’s now the best time to take that delayed vacation, with Europe, essentially, on sale.

You actually get a discount when your credit card bill is lower than you expected six months or a year ago.– Owner of the travel agency Nicole LeBlanc

“Guests have been especially excited to return to European travel this year after the long hiatus due to Covid restrictions,” said Laurel Brunvoll, owner of My Unforgettable Trips of Gaithersburg, Md. “The strong dollar this year has certainly helped fuel travel demand Europe is much more attractive when the euro is more on par with the dollar.

“And shopping is a major component of many customers’ vacations.”

The strong demand for trips to Europe began before the arrival of the lowest exchange rate between the dollar and the euro since 2002. These bookings increased further as the dollar strengthened and, conversely, depressed traveling the other way.

Felix Genatio, senior business data analyst at Dohop, a travel search engine, said flight sales from the US to Europe from January to April this year were “roughly similar to demand for flights from Europe to the United States, but from May to July – which is when the dollar really starts to rally against the euro – we saw sales from the United States to the ‘Europe increased by 113%, while bookings from Europe to the United States only increased by 43%.’

In July, according to Dohop data, 4.5 million tickets were sold for flights to Europe from the United States, compared to just under 3 million for travel between Europe and the United States. . “It’s an unprecedented gap,” Genatio said.

Spend more at destination

Travel advisers say American travelers don’t seem to be crossing the pond because of the strong dollar, but it’s leading to a surge of splurges once there, which spending data has confirmed.

“As international travel has rebounded over the last year or so, we have seen the total amount of money spent by Americans vacationing in major European destinations increase exponentially,” said Carlos Cendra, director of sales and marketing at travel information provider Mabrian. “For example, for the year to the end of July, spending in Barcelona and Paris is up 659% and 529%, respectively, compared to the previous period, August 2020 to 2021.”

Toni Lanotte-Day, owner of Toni Tours in Levittown, NY, said customers she boarded an Emerald Azzurra sailing the Mediterranean decided to stay abroad longer to shop more and enjoy the best hotel rates due to the strong dollar.

Aga Jones, owner of Aga Travel in Washington, said many of his honeymoon clients who booked spring trips for summer departures were able to take advantage of lower hotel rates once in Europe.

“For activities and car rentals that were paid for later, the exchange rate was definitely in their favor,” Jones said. “Couples who booked relatively last minute certainly got better deals on hotel stays.”

Nicole LeBlanc, owner of Mon Voyage in Dallas, said that even for trips booked a while ago, when payment is required in local currency at the time of travel, “you actually get a discount when your credit card bill is lower than you expected six months or a year ago.”

Analysts said tour operators and other travel companies are also looking for bargains. “Typically, on a business level, we see US-based, dollar-denominated tour operators and other B2B buyers of travel booking more European hotels because they can offer more competitive prices than most others. country,” said Wolfgang Emperger, senior vice president of the Shiji Group.

Christmas Cruises, Christmas Shopping

The strong dollar is giving travel advisers another way to offer vacation travel, with this year’s vacation travel season set to be the first big, uninterrupted one since the pandemic began.

During an October 3 Folo by Travel Weekly podcast episode about this year’s Christmas Market River Cruises in Europe, Jennifer Tombaugh, President of Tauck, and Lisa Fitzgerald, Owner of Fitzgerald Travel in Spofford, NH, agreed that the strong dollar had an impact on travellers.

“We’re seeing dollar-based interest as a whole, which I think also helps offset some of the inflationary pressures that you’re seeing as well,” Tombaugh said. “So while things here may seem more expensive, they’re cheaper overseas.”

Travel advisors have friendly advice for customers expressing such interest: “Make sure you pack an empty suitcase with bubble wrap and tape, because you’re going to find a lot of stuff you’ll want to take home.” , said Fitzgerald. .

Tombaugh, a Christmas market customer herself, agreed wholeheartedly and said the worst of the lost luggage issues seemed to be over. Still, she encourages travelers to use tracking devices like AirTags in their luggage for the season.

“Pack an extra bag, shop and enjoy the dollar, and throw in an AirTag,” Tombaugh said.

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