Travel expert explains the trend that makes Europe so affordable to the US

Written by By Staff Writer

CNN

The US had a record number of visitors from destinations such as Florida, Hawaii and New York in the first nine months of 2018, according to data from the US Commerce Department.

Key destinations that saw a significant jump in arrivals

Frolic in the snow

Florida, the most populous state, saw record numbers — up 22.6% from the same period last year.

Travel to Hawaii saw an increase of 34.2%, and trips to New York increased 17.5%.

So, what’s the draw?

“Just like any other economy, the world is a much different place today than it was last year. That’s only one driver,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

“The biggest driver is that the exchange rate of the dollar has remained so strong. Anything that’s going to the US costs less than anything else that you can buy in the rest of the world.”

The exchange rate is also fueling flights to the US for European travelers, including skiers.

“Anywhere from 10 to 15% of the spend that Americans go to Europe will be spent in the United States, which means that you have all of those American tourists who don’t have to buy currency from Europe,” Hobica said.

He also added that most domestic flights that are built into a trip will go via one of the US airports that already have some distance to take off.

“Most domestic flights don’t have service to Europe, but the flights to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are always so short.”

Europe becomes a lot more affordable for tourists

“These are traditionally the more expensive destinations,” Hobica said. “Eighty percent of the money we spend in Europe is spent in domestic cities.”

And it doesn’t stop at domestic flights. Expedia senior director of travel analytics Christy Sinnott said the company saw its biggest spike of users for bookings in Europe over the summer.

“There was a 34% increase in searches for travel to Europe this summer from within the United States, compared to the same time last year,” Sinnott said.

Expedia data showed a 2% increase in American traffic to Spain in 2018, and a 3% spike in searches for Canada.

“We even saw a 5% increase in searches for Ireland and five percent for Italy,” Sinnott said.

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