Drivers: American Travelers to Europe
Three key drivers for Americans traveling to Europe are more direct flights, rising popularity of "new" destinations and the growth in rail travel's popularity.
Airlines Offering More Direct Flights
- One factor driving more Americans than ever visiting Europe is the sheer availability of flights. Several US-based airlines opened direct European routes last year, such as Newark to Naples, Tampa to Amsterdam and Chicago to Athens.
- 2020 is predicted to see even more routes added, especially to less-common cities or ones that had not seen direct flights for a long time. For example, United will open a Newark to Palermo seasonal route, the only direct from the US to the island, and American will add several cities like Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Reykjavik, Casablanca and Tel Aviv this summer.
- Even 'budget' carriers like Norwegian have picked up on the trend, making direct flights cheaper and more accessible than ever. In addition to the routes they already offer, the airline is adding Chicago to Paris, Chicago to Rome and Denver to Rome to its offering this summer.
- Furthermore, while the UK was to be excluded from this research, it does actually have a hand in driving European traveler growth. As British Airways is adding many more UK-Europe routes, American travelers can now access more connection options (starting with a BA flight from North American to Heathrow, then onto Europe) without having to change airlines or worry about re-checking luggage during a connection.
- As finances are the number one reason Americans choose not to travel, direct flights drive down the cost of going to Europe.
Growth in "New" Destinations
- As flight offerings expand, so does interest in international travelers in previously less-traditional destinations. US travelers to Greece are expected to grow 47.4%, 36.8% in Turkey and 32.7% in Cyprus.
- These destinations represent a diversification in interest in US travelers, as more look for "unique and off-the-beaten path destinations".
- Some of this is due to a growing awareness that "new" places in Europe still offer what an American might want in a vacation, such as beaches (Greece and Croatia), nightlife (Greece) or sports (the Netherlands).
Rail Travel is Trending
- As Americans traveling abroad are increasingly wanting to visit more than one destination (Forbes are calling this "country coupling"), but there is also a rising awareness about climate change, rail travel has emerged as a growing force in European tourism.
- North American travel agents are seeing an increasing interest in traveling by train. They are advising agents to showcase the benefits of rail, as many Americans may not have thought of it.
- Millennials are especially driven to seek out companies that support sustainable tourism.
- Rail travel hits about several key travel trends at the moment: sustainable tourism, overtourism (trains can access smaller, more intimate locations), authentic experiences (connect with locals and the landscape), slow relaxed travel and personalization (easier to create unique itineraries). Additionally, Americans have started visiting Europe on shorter trips, making train travel more appealing.
- Additionally, while rail travel among tourists actually used to be quite popular, fare restructuring had led to them being less appealing to visitors. Just last year, the passes were changed again, simplifying their options and making them easier (and more affordable) to shop for.
Destinations Different for the Generations
- According to Squaremouth, the generations have different destination preferences within Europe. Spain has seen Gen Zers flocking to it at a 54% increase over the previous year. The Netherlands is popular with millennials, Switzerland and Germany are seeing more Gen Xers than ever before, and finally Greece is highly preferred among baby boomers.
- Millennials are reportedly 'bored' with traditional destinations or vacations. They increasingly seek out "authentic travel" and enjoy using the sharing economy to stay and learn while overseas.
- Millennials, compared to older generations, are most likely to try new places to visit each year.