Buoyed by a strong dollar, the number of Americans who traveled internationally increased over a 10-month period in 2016, compared to the same time frame in 2015, according to Hotels.com. Europe continues to be popular. Hotel prices decreased significantly in London by 11 percent, in Milan by 15 percent and in Paris by 12 percent, making those destinations budget-stretchers.
Americans continue to travel internationally despite general concerns about safety and the economy. Why? The strong dollar and its resultant decrease in hotel prices spurred travel, according to Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index (HPI), an annual study of hotel rates in major destinations around the world. The online lodging booking site reported an 8 percent increase in travel abroad for the first 10 months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.
“Americans got out and explored the world with confidence in 2016, with their travel budgets generally taking them further. With so many reasonable hotel prices, U.S. travelers were able to trade up for longer and more luxurious stays,” said Josh Belkin, vice president and general manager North America, Hotels.com.
The site’s study provides travel inspiration for those considering vacations abroad. Seven of the top 10 international destinations popular with Americans saw what Hotels.com labeled a “significant price decrease.” These included a 7 percent drop for Thailand, with room rates averaging $93, and a 2 percent drop for China, with room rates averaging $134.
A caveat when planning an international trip: Price isn’t everything. For example, hotels in Istanbul experienced a 29 percent drop in rates, the study’s largest average decline. Although rooms for less than $100 mark Istanbul as a budget-stretching destination, the cause of the low prices reflected a 30 percent drop in tourist visits to Turkey. That occurred because of “a series of terrorist attacks and a failed coup,” said Hotels.com. When reviewing Hotels.com’s finding, be sure to factor in why rates dropped, especially if prices declined more than a few percentage points.
The Most Popular Destination for Americans: Europe
Europe remained the most popular international destination for Americans for the first 10 months of 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015.
· Visits by Americans to Europe for first 10 months of 2016 rose by 7 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
· 23 European destinations landed in the top 50 overseas destinations for Americans.
· London remained the most popular foreign destination.
· In the popular 23 destinations, prices remained unchanged in two: Athens, Greece, and Prague, Czech Republic. Prices rose in eight destinations, among them: Budapest, 3 percent; Madrid, 3 percent; Barcelona, 5 percent; Dublin, 8 percent; and Reykjavik, 17 percent.
· Hotel prices declined in 13 of the 23 European destinations, including:
o Istanbul, 29 percent, average room rate, $88 U.S.
o Milan, 15 percent, average room rate, $183
o Paris, 12 percent, average room rate, $184
o London, 11 percent, average room rate $230
o Venice, 5 percent, average room rate $211
o Rome, 5 percent, average room rate, $164
Latin American Destinations
All eight of the Latin American destinations in the top 50 places for outbound U.S. travelers experienced a drop in average hotel prices. “The ease of travel to Latin America from the U.S., the beautiful and varied landscapes available across the continent and the low prices make it a must-see region for Americans looking for something affordable yet unforgettable,” said Belkin.
· U.S. travel to Mexico increased by 9 percent in the first 10 months of 2016.
· Cancun was the most popular resort area for U.S. travelers.
· Hotel rates in Mexico City decreased by 5 percent, averaging $125. Rates in Playa Del Carmen, decreased by 4 percent, averaging $241. In Cancun, rates decreased 3 percent, averaging $229. In Puerto Vallarta, rates decreased 2 percent, averaging $149.
Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips