Cheap dollar lures European tourists to the US
The United States is currently a hugely popular holiday destination. Travel agents say the low dollar exchange rate is an important stimulus. The US is more accessible than ever. By Wendy Braanker
Jan Doets, a travel agent specialising in the US, is expecting 20 percent more bookings in 2008. There was already a steep rise in 2007. Travel agent D-Reizen saw the number of US bookings soar by a quarter in the first months of 2008. Another major travel company, NBBS, also reports a major increase. "For example, we're seeing that people who first wanted to book a trip to Asia are now opting for the US because of the low dollar rate.”
The US dollar is hitting low after low. The weak dollar is matched by a strong euro, and on Thursday the euro breached the 1.56 dollar mark. Hence the demand from European tourists.
The value of the dollar has gradually dropped over the years. At the beginning of the century it was in fact the euro that was in a poor state. At its weakest it was only worth 83 dollar cents. But now the roles are reversed. Continuing concerns about the US economy are pushing the “greenback” to ever greater depths.
So for Europeans, a trip to the United States is a lot cheaper than it used to be. The downside is that aviation taxes and oil prices are rising. But on balance holidaymakers are better off.
D-Reizen says both short trips to New York and package tours of the US are popular. "Flight-only tickets to New York are the most in demand. Now the dollar is so low, people think it's a nice idea to visit some museums. For others, shopping is the main object," says D-Reizen’s assistant director, Steven van Nieuwenhuijzen.
People are more ready to spend money, says Elske Doets of travel agent Jan Doets. "Consumers have held back for a few years, but now they're making decisions more easily.” It also helps that the fear of attacks has lessened.
Elske Doets says there are a lot of bookings for motorhome trips. Popular states to visit are California, Utah, Florida and New York. Many of the bookings notably come from people visiting the US for the first time, she says. NBBS also notes a lot of interest in trips to US national parks.
*RNW translation (mb)
[Copyright Radio Netherlands]