Extraordinary dollar bargains for foreign tourists

Tourists pause to view the Statue of Liberty from a Liberty Island ferry boat at Battery Park in New York, September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar Tourists stoped to view the Statue of Liberty from a Liberty Island ferry boat at Battery Park in New York, September 30, 2013.Weak U.S. dollar means unexpected bargains for foreign tourists. Toshi Sugiyura and his wife Naka had a pleasant surprise waiting for them in San Francisco…When the couple arrived from Japan on an anniversary trip, thanks to the U.S. dollar’s months-long slide against the yen.

The 37-year-old business man from Nagoya said the stronger yen gave them more dollars to buy whatever they wanted for their kids.

“If the dollar keeps going down, maybe we’ll go to Hawaii,” added Naka Sugiyura, 41.

This “dollar declining value” this year is giving foreign visitors like the Sugiyuras unexpected purchasing power and will likely increase the amount of money they spend on their holidays, travel experts said.

Solid gains by euro, British pound, Chinese yuan and other major currencies against the dollar since the start of this year have been too recent have affected a lot of travel decisions. Tourists typically lock in vacations months or even years ahead of time, experts said.

Also,travelers who had already booked for this summer are finding their home currencies are stretching way more further than six months ago.

“We can see more spending by those who already planned to come,” said economist Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics in Philadelphia.

Brian Yong, a 45-year-old information technology engineer from Shanghai, said the yuan-friendly exchange rate made his two-week stay in San Francisco better and as a result he said he was going to do more shopping.

“Lots of Chinese find it really convenient to come here because of the exchange rate,” Yong said.

Foreign visitors as in every other country of the world make a big contribution to the U.S. economy, with 75.6 million of them spending $244.7 billion last year, the Commerce Department said. Foreigners spent nearly $84 billion more than Americans spent in other countries when they go for holidays.

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New York City,or the most popular U.S. destination for foreigners, officials hope stronger foreign currencies will translate into extra dollars for shopping and other fun stuff they enjoy.

“It could be the difference between buying an extra pair of shoes or not, is might sound exaggerated,but its true,” said Chris Heywood, spokesman for the city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company.

Since January, the dollar has lost 9 to 13 percent of its value against the euro, Mexican peso and Australian dollar. It has weakened more modestly against the British pound, Chinese yuan, Japanese yen, Brazilian real and Canadian dollar.

All this means that a $300 hotel room, for example, would now cost a European about 256 euros, as opposed to 285 euros in early January.

Well,the “feel good” factor is often subjective and currency-specific.

“I’ve noticed the euro has been getting higher but it seems like it was stronger when I was here almost seven years ago,” said Vera, a 25-year-old from Cologne, Germany, who is spending the summer in New York and declined to give her surname for certain personal reasons.

As a matter of fact the euro was stronger seven years ago. It has lost about 14 percent of its value against the dollar since Oct. 1, 2010, despite its rise since January.

The interviewed lady,Vera, said she had spent more money on jeans than she anticipated, “because clothes cost less here.”

Although foreign travelers make up only one in five of New York’s visitors, they accounted for about half of the $43 billion the city reaped from visitors in 2016, Heywood said.

“The international visitor stays longer and spends more when they come here,” he added.

Mauro Antico, 49, of Turin, Italy, said he planned his week-long visit to New York with his family four months ago without regard to the exchange rate,he was really pleased by the savings after he arrived.

“We are planning to buy a lot of things now,” he said.