Europe expects a busy summer

Those planning on visiting Europe this summer might want to start making plans and reservations soon. According to the European Travel Commission, the number of Americans travelling to Europe is expected to rise by 5 percent this year to 11.5 million, the seventh annual increase.

Tourist traffic from Asia is likely to drop a bit because of economic difficulties there, but U.S. tourists are the group most likely to be looking for the same rooms, tours and packages as Canadian travellers. This season also marks the introduction of the Euro, which isn’t expected to cause any difficulties for tourists. Once established and used regularly, the Euro promises to make travel to Europe easier, as we won’t have to be constantly calculating new exchange rates as we move from country to country.

Airfares are expected to be stable, as fuel costs remain low. Airlines are also economizing by focusing on the most popular European destinations.

The travel commission also predicts a busy season for cruise lines going to Europe. Last year, Europe “berth nights” increased 40 percent to 9.5 million, based on statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association. This year, there arat least 20 cruise lines sending record numbers of ships to European waters. One new ship may cause over-crowding all by itself: the new Grand Princess carries 2,600 passengers.