In the six months since British citizens voted to exit the European Union, one thing has remained the same: Great deals for tourists.
Right after the vote, there was a lot of uncertainty, the British pound took a beating, and experts urged U.S. travelers to rush over and take advantage of lodging and attraction prices that were, effectively, 10 to 15 percent less expensive than they’d been the week before.
In October, the British pound dipped even further, hitting a 31-year low. Today, it sits far below even its pre-Brexit value. And that means the United Kingdom, especially the expensive-to-visit London, continues to offer great value for travelers.
“There has never been a better time for Americans to visit, thanks to a more favorable exchange rate,” said Chris Gottlieb, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Visit London. “The savings a family of four can typically expect to make [now] can be a great excuse to add an extra day to their holiday.”
Visit London found that since the vote to leave the EU, American visitors have had over 13 percent more spending power, thanks to the value of the U.K. pound against the dollar. And, compared to a year ago, 70 percent of Americans surveyed said they are more likely to consider booking a holiday to London now.
“We are seeing an increase in demand year-over-year for travel to London and the U.K., and already are booking many clients into next summer — which is earlier than usual,” said Mark Simoes, Vice President of Balboa Travel’s Vacations division. “We are encouraging our clients to lock in rates by booking now to take advantage of historically strong dollar,” he told NBC News.
Airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are offering some round-trip fares between New York and London for under $600 (for post-holiday travel) and “many hotels, including luxury properties, have started running ‘pay-for-two nights; stay-for-three’ promotions," said Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg of Valerie Wilson Travel.
“There are definitely deals to be had and not just for January, but through the first quarter,” she noted. In London, both the Four Seasons Park Lane and Claridge’s, for example, are offering four nights for the price of three.
"London is a great place to visit any time, but it’s particularly appealing now,” said Lonely Planet's Britain destination editor, James Smart. “Favorable exchange rates mean you get more bang for your buck, whether you’re hitting the high-end stores, wandering atmospheric Christmas markets, or catching a play at the West End’s theaters.”
There are plenty of other reasons to plan a trip to London in the new year, including the recent opening of a new wing at the Tate Modern, an exhibition of over 100 robots at the Science Museum of London, and the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
2017 also brings the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Harry Potter book series and the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication — and there are plenty of special events planned to mark these, and other, milestones.