5 Reasons This Is Year To Travel

(ARA) – Despite an economic slowdown that has loomed over many countries around the world, this year could prove to be a great year to travel — especially overseas.

There are five key reasons why Americans should seize the opportunity to travel abroad, according to the U.S. Tour Operators Association, an organization whose members book vacations for 11 million people a year.

1. The U.S. dollar is stronger.

The U.S. dollar has risen against many world currencies — by about 10 to 45 percent depending on the destination — which means your money goes further. While it is showing gains against the euro, the dollar buys about 25 percent more than last year in European countries that rely on their own currency, including the United Kingdom, Hungary, Sweden and Iceland. In Australia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand, the dollar continues to be strong against local currencies.

2. Itâ??s easier to find deals.

Travelers are seeing average savings of 20 percent over last year on travel arrangements. â??The dollarâ??s stronger buying power, combined with the need to increase business revenues during the recession, has led to any number of good deals,â? says Bob Whitley, USTOA president.

* In Italy, the No. 1 foreign destination, the buying power of the dollar is about 10 percent higher than in 2008. Travelers are saving 10 to 25 percent over last year on custom arrangements and vacation packages.
* In Australia, where the dollarâ??s purchasing power has risen by around 15 percent, a 16-day, custom itinerary, including airfare, costs $1,430 this year — $500 less than 2008.
* In the United Kingdom, the dollar buys over 20 percent more than in 2008, and a one-week air inclusive tour of England, Scotland, and Ireland costs $2,599, or $250 less than last year.
*Closer to home, a two-week Alaska cruise tour costs $2,549, a savings of more than $800, or 25 percent less than last year.

3. More Americans have passports.

American accessibility to foreign travel is growing, as more U.S citizens hold passports today than ever before. The U.S. State Department reported issuing more than 16 million passports last year. Americans now need a passport or passport card to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda as part of the final phase of the Department of Homeland Securityâ??s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

â??Holding a passport opens up a world of travel beyond our neighboring countries to people who are considering venturing across the Atlantic or Pacific oceans for the first time,â? says Whitley. â??What makes foreign travel even easier is the fact that 27 countries — including the U.K., France, Italy, Iceland, Latvia, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore — no longer require visas from American citizens.â?

4. Travel stimulates the world economy.

Travel is a major economic stimulus worldwide. A total of 58 million international travelers visited the U.S. in 2008, each contributing an average $4,400 to our economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates international tourism to the U.S. accounts for 15 percent of our gross domestic product. Travel remains among the three largest global industries, responsible for one in 13 jobs worldwide, or nearly 220 million workers.

â??Just as travelers visiting the U.S. help our economy, international travel by Americans supports not only the U.S. tourism industry, but economies overseas, some of which depend on tourism for a sizeable part of their revenue,â? says Whitley. â??This is especially true in developing countries where tourism may be the only real industry.â?

5. The “Obama Effect” is fostering goodwill.

As an impetus to travel abroad, the USTOA is calling on Americans to take advantage of the goodwill and positive American image being generated by President Barack Obamaâ??s policy of engagement and openness with world leaders.

â??By traveling, each American becomes an unofficial global ambassador,â? says Whitley. â??We encourage Americans to follow in President Obamaâ??s footsteps and explore the vast world outside our borders and underscore American values around the globe.â??â??

For more information on USTOA, and for a list of member companies, visit: www.USTOA.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent


About Gay Today

Editor of Gay Today