New York cheaper but most US prices to rise

German tour operators have secured cheaper rates for New York for next year but most US travel prices look set to rise sharply due to the strong dollar, pushing up holiday costs for consumers.

Tour operator buyers at the recent IPW fair in Orlando were positively surprised by the readiness of New York suppliers to offer attractive rates in response to a boom in new hotels. “New York City is fairly under pressure at present due to plenty of new capacity,” explained Steffen Boehnke, TUI’s long-haul holidays chief.

Fabio Negro, North America director for FTI, agreed: “With about 80 new hotels opening this year, New York City will have over-capacity for the first time for many years. Now they need us to fill the beds and so they are very accommodating. But it won’t necessarily stay like that in future.” America Unlimited managing director Timo Kohlenberg explained that the lower rates also resulted from a drop in bookings for many suppliers this year already because of the high exchange rate.

The capacity increase was confirmed by Fred Dixon, head of tourism office NYC & Company. “We have created as many additional beds as San Francisco has in total,” he declared. Tourism chiefs hope that lower prices will make the Big Apple more affordable for families and young adults in particular.

Overall, however, the USA will be a much more expensive destination for German travellers next year on account of the stronger dollar. Tour operators, who benefitted this year from contracting capacity at a much lower exchange rate last year, expect their contracting prices to go up as much as 15-20%, meaning there will inevitably be higher prices for customers.

At present, though, leading German tour operators are still seeing strong sales for the USA this year, with sales up by about 10%. “We’re the outperformer in the German market,” declared TUI’s Boehnke. “We are having a record year with our USA product and are currently growing 50% faster than the market.” He claimed that TUI now offers a larger hotel programme for the USA than market leader Dertour, and is also benefiting from good reservations technology. “We want to become the long-haul number one.”

But Dertour’s North America director Per Ilian countered: “We’re still a bit bigger, but we’re not resting on our laurels.” FTI also has growth ambitions. “We want to grow and return to our former strength in the USA,” underlined Negro.