Travel

Strong dollar yields savings from tour operators

With the dollar strengthening against many foreign currencies, travel abroad may be cheaper than in the past, inspiring tour operators to offer booking rebates and increase departures.

Because most outfitters contract for hotels and transportation a year or more in advance of travel, several are kicking back their exchange rate savings as incentives. Wilderness Travel is offering booking savings up to $880 per person on an 11-day hiking trip in Norway. Other trips offer lesser discounts; trips in Turkey, Morocco and South Africa are about $400 off. The company emphasizes that savings may fluctuate with exchange rates, and may not last.

Through April 15, Vacations by Rail is offering discounts up to $400 per person, applied at the time of booking, on Canadian train trips such as the 16-day Canada Coast to Coast trip from Vancouver to Halifax. The U.S. dollar currently buys about 1.25 Canadian dollars.

“We have not seen the American dollar this strong in years,” Todd Powell, chief executive and a founder of Vacations by Rail, said in a statement. At the end of the week, $1 bought just under 1.09 euros.

Some tour operators report strong early bookings on European trips inspired by the strong dollar; it is nearly at par with the euro. Members of the U.S. Tour Operators Association have reported growth from 14 to 48 percent on European itineraries over last year, and several have increased departures, including Insight Vacations with 12 new European trips.

“From a customer perspective, it’s like winning the vacation lottery,” said Terry Dale, the president and chief executive of the group. “With fuel prices dropping, travelers have more discretionary income, and when they go over to Europe it goes further than it has in a very long time.”

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