Is Europe still an Affordable Destination?

At least three Asia-based airlines are either limiting or withdrawing their flights to Europe.

Indonesia’s Garuda used to have quite a good network of flights to Europe but now flies only to Amsterdam, and the airline has just announced that it is going to cut its number of services there.

The Taiwan airline China Air has also announced that it will be limiting its flights to Europe, and the Malaysia-based budget airline Air Asia X is abandoning flights to Europe altogether after having serviced both London and Paris.

All three airlines have said that their decisions are based on both an increase in taxes in Europe and on the price they pay for fuel there. Each airline is increasing its number of flights to different ports in the Asia Pacific region where, they say, conditions are much better for the airline business.

The two main European currencies are the Euro and the British Pound, both of which are expensive when compared to the US Dollar and most other currencies. This means that if you are a non-European visiting the continent, your currency doesn’t buy all that much when you get there and, when compared to values elsewhere, what you do get for your money is usually far less than what you would pay elsewhere, especially for food and accommodation.

Take the issue with accommodation, for instances. Not only are European hotels, and I include British hotels in that description, outrageously expensive for fairly basic facilities, but service is often astonishingly bad. That is not to say there are not some hotels that are a pure delight but, on average, service in Europe is poor for the price that you pay, compared to other regions in the world.

Several cities in Italy have introduced a hotel room tax with which to slug tourists. Italy isn’t doing all that well financially, and you would think that by attracting tourists to visit, the authorities would benefit from all that foreign currency that is spent there, and which does actually aid employment. But, no, the way to encourage tourists, apparently, is to tax them harder than you have before.

The European Community has now introduced an Emissions Trading Scheme which will impact on the costs that airlines will have to pay to negate the level of pollution created by aircraft. Naturally, the airlines will pass any increase onto their customers, thus making it more expensive to fly into and out of Europe.

The British Government has revised its Air Passenger Duty for flights emanating from Britain. It is a four-scaled system with those flying the greatest distances paying the highest taxes. It may be a great money spinner for the Government, but a pretty poor option for anyone else.

New destinations are opening all the time these days, and with great values still to be had in North America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East attracting greater numbers of visitors, and Africa and South America becoming more accessible with new tourist infrastructure being built, there is plenty of competition for the tourist dollar.

There are some great places to visit in Europe, but there are also great places practically everywhere these days, usually at a price that is better than anything you’ll find in Europe.

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