A Brexit upside? Cheaper UK vacations
Now might be a good time to take that trip to London.
With the value of the British pound plummeting on the news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, American tourists will have more spending power. That Louis Vuitton handbag you’ve been craving? It’s cheaper there than it was yesterday. The same goes for hotel rooms, theater tickets, and pints at a pub.
The United Kingdom has long been an expensive destination for US travelers because of the strength of its currency, but with the pound plunging Friday to its lowest levels in more than 30 years — with an exchange rate of $1.37 per pound vs. $1.57 a year ago — a British vacation is more affordable than it used to be.
And, some travel industry analysts say, deals that had already started popping up to attract travelers worried about terrorism may multiply as UK tourist operators try to make traveling to Britain even more attractive.
A recent Travelzoo survey found that 80 percent of people who had already booked their summer vacations weren’t going abroad, mainly due to security concerns over terrorist attacks in Europe. This decrease in bookings has prompted airfare sales and cuts in hotel rates in cities such as London, Paris, and Venice, including four- and five-star hotels for under $200 a night at the height of summer.
So far, agents at Atlas Travel in Milford haven’t seen an uptick in people interested in travel to the United Kingdom after the European Union vote. But that could change, particularly if the dollar stays strong.
“You could actually see a pretty quick bump in appeal as far as traveling into the UK,” said Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo, noting that tantalizing bargains could overcome security concerns that are keeping people at home.
Worries about the presidential election could dampen enthusiasm for last-minute jaunts, however, warned Jim Lowell, editor in chief of the Fidelity Investor newsletter.
“If we didn’t have a fearsome election year coming down the pipe, then that might be the case, but I think our own consumer base is getting increasingly nervous about virtually everything,” he said.
Interestingly, flight searches from the United Kingdom to the United States spiked on travel website liligo.com Friday.
A Travelzoo survey of European travelers before the Brexit vote found that a third of German, Italian, and Spanish residents would reconsider taking trips to the UK if voters there rejected the European Union, due to currency uncertainty and “EU pride,” Saglie said. This could prompt even more last-minute sales and promotions targeting Americans.
The British exit vote could result in more expensive European vacations for Americans down the road, however. If the newly independent United Kingdom has to seek out new air service agreements with other European countries, it could mean reduced routes for low-cost carriers, and Americans who use London as a jumping-off point to explore the rest of Europe might see higher airfare as a result.