During The New York Times Travel Show, executives from European tourist boards and the European Travel Commission pitched travel agent attendees on why they should recommend a European vacation to clients this year. Below is our Top 10 reasons, based on the panel:
1. Low air fares
One-way airfares are as low as $69 from North America to Europe and there are plentiful fares under $200 each way, including from the West Coast. They make crossing the pond affordable to a wider group of consumers—and for your customers who love Europe but have to adhere to a budget, they make it possible to take multiple trips.
2. The exchange rate
With the dollar buying significantly more than in decades (Switzerland is 50% more affordable, according to its tourist board), Americans are traveling to Europe with an empty suitcase to take advantage of shopping bargains. The average spend per visitor is up $73 since Brexit, according to Visit Britain.
3. It’s easier than ever to get there
There are 430 air routes connecting North America and Europe, a 25% increase in the past five years. New routes this year include nonstop flights between San Diego and Zurich, both Hartford and Miami to Dublin, and New Orleans to London and Frankfurt, to name a few.
4. It’s not just culture
For your clients who are sports fans, Visit Britain is highlighting the 25th anniversary of the Premier League. Clients can easily score hard-to-get tickets in conjunction with two-night hotel packages via specialist tour operators.
5. Upgrade to luxury
The strength of the dollar means your clients who previously couldn’t afford four- and five-star hotels can now indulge. Swiss tourism officials say they are seeing an influx of Americans coming back to the country’s famous deluxe properties.
6. All in the family
Again, with low airfares and more value on the ground, tourism officials said 2017 is the year to encourage clients who have European heritage to plan a trip back to the old country, where multiple generations can together explore their roots and share stories.
7. Europe is on trend
From wellness to foodies and soft adventure, there are a multitude of options for all client budgets. Clients can ride on bike tours that cover parts of the Tour de France route. Bucket list things like dining in a Michelin starred restaurant or skiing in the Alps won’t break the bank. European tourist board executives claimed skiing in Europe can be cheaper than Aspen or Vail.
8. Special events are a hook
France is celebrating the centennial of the United States entering WWI. In Germany it’s the 500th anniversary of Luther, and in England it’s the year of Jane Austen. Wales has activities planned around its “Myths and Legends” theme for 2017.
9. The old country always has something new
Outside of Paris, there is the Yves Saint Laurent museum. The chateau that once was the residence of JP Morgan’s daughter is now a museum dedicated to the Franco-American relationship. Germany will see 186 new hotels opening up.
10. You haven’t seen it all
For even your most well-traveled customers, emerging destinations such as Croatia and Slovenia have more accommodations and options than ever. The growth of budget airline WOW Air has helped make Iceland a very popular stopover destination.