Sicily isn’t the only European destination bustling with tourists ahead of the peak summer season in July and August. After three years of pandemic restrictions, travelers are flocking to Europe in record numbers, despite high airfares, limited accommodations, sweltering heat and crowded sites.
Among American travelers, Europe is the most popular destination this year, according to Hopper’s “Summer Travel to Europe” report. Demand has already outpaced 2019 levels, according to the report, even as hotel prices surge and airfares are the highest in five years. London, Paris, Rome, Lisbon and Athens are among the most booked cities on the Hopper travel app, and the Sicilian city of Palermo, which is also featured in “The White Lotus,” is among the top trending destinations.
“We have to make up for the lost time,” said Elizabeth Hughes, 44, an occupational therapist from Chicago, who made a scrapbook of places she wanted to visit in Europe during the height of the pandemic. She is currently in London, starting a four-week itinerary in eight countries, including France, Italy and Greece. “I had to sell my car to pull this off, but if I’m traveling this far, I’m going to see everywhere,” she said.
Demand has been so high that many travel advisers have had to turn away clients looking to book vacations in popular European destinations in July and August because of a lack of availability.
“Two weeks ago I had a last-minute request for Greece and I reached out to my suppliers to see if there was any way to accommodate them. But there was nothing, so, unfortunately, I had to turn down business,” said Abby Lagman, the founder of the Blissful Travel Company, a U.S.-based travel agency.