SOURCE: EuroQuest Travel Group

EuroQuest Travel Group

February 26, 2009 08:00 ET

European Vacations Offer the Perfect Antidote to Tough Economic Times

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 26, 2009) - With the economy taking a turn for the worse, Americans are trimming down their expenses and limiting their discretionary spending.

But while the retail, entertainment and other service industries are slowing down, some reports say the tourism industry is looking up. According to the research firm PhoCus Wright, "leisure and unmanaged business travel bookings will hit nearly $100 billion in 2008 -- more than one-third of the total travel market, and a 9% increase over 2007."

The bottom line is, people need their vacations now more than ever and, for many reasons, now is the perfect time to book a trip.

With oil dropping from an all-time high of $147 per barrel back in July to a current rate in the mid thirties today, consumers get a double bonus. Gasoline prices have fallen from over $4 per gallon to under $2 per gallon, putting more money back into consumers' pockets. And, by the same token, the cost of jet fuel has dropped dramatically, allowing airlines to reduce or eliminate fuel surcharges, effectively lowering airfares.

Europe is becoming more affordable for Americans traveling overseas. The Euro exchange rate dropped from $1.59 in August to an approaching $1.26 and the British Pound exchange rate dropped from around $2 in August to around $1.44, translating to increased buying power of more than 25% in Eurozone countries and England.

Finally, the fact that most hotels and tour operators have renegotiated their pricing for 2009 means they are able to offer some pretty substantial savings.

Tour operators that are offering such deals include Italiatours.com, Irelandvacations.net, and Frenchexperience.com. Italiatours.com is offering a 7 day in great tourist class hotels in Rome and Florence special for $999 per person. FrenchExperience.com has a Paris City Break for 5 nights at $689 including a Metro and Paris Museum Pass, a cruise on the Seine river and a Cabaret Show. We also checked out JetVacations.com which is famous for offering amazing savings to Ireland, Italy, France, England, Eastern Europe and Russia. JetVacations.com is offering an Ireland 5 days Pub tour which includes great hotels, excursions, transfers, and dinners for less than $599 per person.

So instead of watching your 401K travel south, grab your passport and head east. With these economy-friendly bargains, travelers will not only get their money's worth but also a chance to beat the recession blues.