Surge in U.S. dollar sending more travelers to Europe
The U.S. dollar is on a roll, up 28 percent against the euro, 18 percent against the Japanese yen and 40 percent against the Brazilian real. In fact, it has not been this strong since 1981. While it is pinching corporate profits and weighing on economic growth here in the United States, it is delivering big bargains for American tourists.
Booking.com estimates the average price for a four-star hotel room in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin is down 21 percent from March 2014 because of the dollar's rise against the euro. Americans can spend less on a 14-day trip to Europe than on a seven-day trip to certain destinations right here in the United States.
"We are definitely seeing a larger influx in travel to Europe this year. People feel that they are getting a better value for their buck. I would say that most are saving at least 10 to 15 percent. I think a lot of people who would normally have gone to the Caribbean or Central or South America are moving their destination over to Europe because they're able to use a little more money for souvenirs and extra curricular activities while they're there," said Colleen Kidwell, vacation specialist with AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They can buy escorted tours for much less because many of the tour companies are negotiating rates based on the currency exchange."
It is tough to put a dollar figure on the exact amount people are saving because of the different trips they are taking and the different excursions they are booking, but Kidwell estimates that it is several hundred dollars.
"The rate of exchange is just so much closer to our dollar that we are no longer paying a dollar and a half to go to Europe now," she said. "It is also costing much less for airfare. In the summer months last year, we were seeing average tickets to Europe range from $1,700 to $2,000 per person. This year, we've been able to find airline tickets in the $1,200 to $1,500 range."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.