For three years, the pandemic — and then its repercussions, like staff shortages — deterred people from traveling abroad. But wanderlusty Americans have roared back with vengeance. And according to the travel app Hopper, our most popular destination this summer has been Europe.
American Airlines, Delta and United are all experiencing a surge in the number of passengers traveling abroad, too.
The top cities where people are booking vacations are Paris, Rome, London, Lisbon and Athens. And that’s despite the fact that the average price of a plane ticket to Europe is $1,200, which is the highest it’s been in six years. (Since last summer, the price of a flight to Europe has gone up by 12%.)
According to Hotel News, 60% of European “accommodation businesses” had an uptick in guests over the last six months, and 51% of them increased room rates.
So, yes — hotels are also charging more, with an average price of $205 per night, which is 37% higher than this time last year. And in some cities, the price increase is even steeper. If you’re going to Rome, expect to pay 63% more than you would have at this time last year. For Madrid, it’s 41% more.
But for people who’ve been cooling their heels and previously missed out on summer travel plans, the wait has been worth it.
“We have to make up for the lost time,” traveler Elizabeth Hughes told The New York Times. She booked a four-week trip to eight countries, including France, Italy and Greece. “I had to sell my car to pull this off, but if I’m traveling this far, I’m going to see everywhere.”
And many who sat in their living rooms taking in the gorgeous seaside setting of “The White Lotus” have been dreaming of trips to Sicily and Palermo, Italy, for several months now. Another traveler, Aiden Judson, told Times that he and his wife Laura had already booked their honeymoon trip to Sicily when the show came out.
“When we watched the show, we were so excited, like ‘wow, that’s going to be us,’ and didn’t realize that it would mean everyone and their mom would be going to Sicily this summer,” he said. “It was still stunning and we had some special moments, but it was crazy busy with loud and sweaty tourists packed into narrow streets. It made it difficult to feel the Italian charm.”
In fact, during June Italy did see about 8.6% more travelers by plane than compared to the same month in 2019. Americans represented the largest number of these tourists. And due to some national holidays in Italy, Italian citizens themselves have been traveling within their country, making up half of its tourists to vacation sites.
“Venice is used to mass tourism, but what I’m seeing right now is something new — places that hardly used to be crowded are now crowded. Weekdays that used to be quiet are now busy almost like the weekends,” Guido Moltedo, a Venice native, told the Times.
Famous museums like the Louvre and bucket-list destinations like the Vatican are already known for long lines, but they are now swarming with even more vacationers — as are the restaurants that cater to them.
So if you didn’t get to travel to Europe this summer, maybe that’s not such a bad thing?