Europe Stronger dollar entices Americans to travel to Europe By Michelle Baran / June 28, 2010 Share 1 -- It feels good to have a stronger dollar for once, even if the underlying economic reasons for it might be cause for concern. Nevertheless, with the euro hovering at about 1.20 to the dollar, it makes the European vacation psychologically more enticing, according to tour operators. In mid-2008, the euro reached a high of 1.58 to the dollar, and last fall it again crept up towards 1.50. This is the lowest the exchange rate has been since 2005, when the euro dipped just below 1.20. "Last year we were seeing a weak dollar, whereas this year the dollar has gained strength against currencies such as the euro," said John Stachnik, president of Mayflower Tours and chairman of the USTOA. In a poll of 28 USTOA member operators, 58% said that the dollar's value is having a positive impact on international travel bookings for 2010 and 2011. Of those surveyed, 96% said that 2010 sales of international tours and packages increased on average 30% over last year. "The stronger dollar is keeping demand healthy, particularly for our Last Minute Deals series of European tours that are departing within six to eight weeks from time of listing," said Adam Leavitt, vice president of marketing at Trafalgar Tours. Another Europe operator Key Tours said the improvement in the strength of the dollar can only help throughout the remainder of 2010 and would contribute to a strong fall and winter season. And as escorted tour operators enter their hedging and pricing season for 2011, if the dollar remains strong, it could translate into favorable package prices for next year. "If the balance remains in the dollar's favor it will undoubtedly allow us to pass savings on to our guests and provide even greater value for their European vacations," said Leavitt.