advertisement

The year 2016 will go down in the record books as a poor year for international travel. Terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Turkey, and Egypt are generally cited as the cause, although the Zika virtus and "the election year curse" are also named. Whatver the reason, it seems increasingly clear that 2017 will reverse that decline and perhaps establish new records of heavy travel movements. 

To international destinations all over the world, airfares seem to be plummeting—literally plummeting. As one example, from numerous cities on the West Coast, one can now often fly—frequently, but not always—to Beijing or Shanghai for an amazing $600 round-trip. One can fly to Thailand and Vietnam for just a bit more. There are airlines that will take you from New York to Frankfurt and then from Paris back to New York, for as little as $517 (as an acquaintance of mine recently discovered). 

Why is this happening? Heavy competition to the standard carriers from budget airlines in Asia, similar competition to transatlantic airlines from Norwegian Air and WOW Airlines of Iceland, are often named as the cause, although the existence of $49-per-barrel aviation fuel is also noted. Although the recent attempt by OPEC to raise oil prices may check the decline somewhat, the more frequent prediction is for ultra-low international airfares to remain throughout the year to come. 

And once at the international destination, American travelers enjoy the benefit of an unusually strong U.S. dollar. To Western Europe, the dollar now buys an unprecedented 1.05 euros—it is as close to par with the euro as ever before. To Japan, it buys 112 yen—bringing costs in that country to a moderate level and a reason for vacationing there.

So why are some Americans still at home? One is more likely to be hit by lightning than to be injured by terrorism, and that realization has caused tourism to Paris, as one example, to have recovered by 30%. More and more of our people are once again flooding the air routes to Europe, and to Japan, China, and Thailand across the Pacific. 

A strangely named website, XE.com, will reveal the latest currency rates to you, and will undoubtedly continue to reflect a strong U.S. dollar. That's why the prospects for heavy American international travel remain so strong.