Holidays in Europe beckon as euro falls

Travel agencies here have seen an increase in demand for travel to Europe, some by as much as 40 per cent. -- PHOTO: AFP
Travel agencies here have seen an increase in demand for travel to Europe, some by as much as 40 per cent. -- PHOTO: AFP

More affordable travel there pushes demand up by as much as 40%

More people are heading to Europe for a holiday, which has become more affordable with the falling euro.

Travel agencies here have seen an increase in demand for travel to the continent, some by as much as 40 per cent.

"We're still seeing strong demand, especially over the Chinese New Year break. Many are repeat visitors to Europe," said Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications Alicia Seah.

Sales of the agency's tour packages to European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, rose 40 per cent last year compared with 2013, said Ms Seah.

At Chan Brothers Travel, demand has been "consistently strong" since the euro started falling steadily in the third quarter of last year. Bookings to Europe rose 10 per cent last year over 2013.

Meanwhile, CTC Travel is seeing a higher number of inquiries for travel during the summer season in Europe.

On Thursday, the euro sank to its lowest against the Singdollar since March 2013. This was after the European Central Bank announced a massive €1.1 trillion (S$1.7 trillion) bond-buying programme to boost the flagging euro zone economy.

One Singaporean who has taken advantage of the falling euro is Ms Nicole Niam, 21. She went on a one-month backpacking trip in Europe late last year, covering countries such as Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

"I had greater spending power," said Ms Niam, who is waiting to start her postgraduate studies.

The better exchange rates allowed her to visit more places. She said: "When I was thinking of buying a train or bus ticket (to another destination), I thought it's OK (to spend) because the ticket is cheaper now."

Yesterday, one Singdollar could buy €0.66, compared with €0.57 a year ago.

Money changers, however, have yet to see a rush for the currency, said the president of the Money Changers Association, Mr Seyadou Zahanguire.

With the situation in Europe still unstable, consumers may be waiting to see if the euro falls further, he said.

"People won't buy (euro) now and keep it to sell later; they're scared that it will go lower," he added.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg