Although the remarkable recent rise in the value of the U.S. Dollar has made headlines, hardly anyone has commented on the impact of that development on international travel by Americans. Hence this blog.
In Western Europe and Japan, in Turkey and Russia, in India and Australia, in numerous smaller nations, the local currency has plummeted against the Dollar---by at least 50% in Russia, by 30% in Japan, by nearly 20% in western Europe, where the Euro is selling for as little as $1.19 (and possibly less by the time you read this).
For years, the travel industry has dreamed of a time when the Euro would again sell at par with the Dollar (one Euro costing only one Dollar), and now that much-desired rate may soon be real. When you add a virtual absence of inflation in all European nations, the result is that costs in big European cities are now nearly the same as in large U.S. cities, and costs in rural locations and small towns of Europe are now nearly identical to those in similar smaller towns of America. If ever there were a more advantageous time for traveling to France, Italy, Spain and Germany, it is now. Record trans-Atlantic travel is expected in the months ahead.
To Japan, there’s been an even more dramatic drop in costs for the American tourist using Dollars to purchase Japanese Yen. And since deflation has been the economic situation for several years in Japan, that nation has become a moderately-priced destination for most Americans.
Unfortunately, travel to Russia and Turkey has been adversely affected by other circumstances that, in my personal opinion, have overcome the advantage of a weak local currency. In Russia, traveling friends of mine--whose opinions I respect--have reported uncomfortable attitudes by local residents towards American tourists. Possibly because the controlled Russian media has falsely reported that Fascist elements have taken over the U.S.-supported national government of Ukraine, many Russian residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg appear to be unfriendly to U.S. visitors, and to treat them discourteously. I have heard of recent experiences that would not encourage me to travel there at this time.
In Turkey, similarly, we are witnessing the emergence of a classic authoritarian dictator in the person of its president, Mr. Erdogan, who recently detained publishers and journalists who opposed him, and even brought a criminal prosecution against a 16-year-old boy who criticized him. These actions followed statements by Erdogan that women were not the equal of men, that their major function was to deliver three children at least and preferably four or five, and that it was “treasonous” to use birth control. These, and similar actions, threaten the emergence of an unfriendly theocratic state in Turkey, and would make me highly reluctant to venture a trip there at this time, despite the fact that the Turkish lira is selling at such a good exchange rate against the Dollar.
Obviously, there are also possibly adverse consequences (in a broader economic sense) from the dramatic drop of various currencies against the U.S. dollar, and some economists are worried about a general downturn in the world’s economy. But solely from the viewpoint of international travel by Americans, we are entering an advantageous time.