Sicily isn’t the only European destination packed with tourists before the peak summer season in July and August. Travelers are flocking to Europe in record numbers after three years of pandemic restrictions, despite high airfares, limited accommodation, sweltering heat and crowded places.
Among US travelers, Europe is the most popular destination this year Hopper’s “Summer Tour of Europe” report. According to the report, demand has already crossed 2019 levels, while hotel prices have shot up and airfares are at their 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, also featured in “The White Lotus,” is one of the top trending destinations.
“We have to make up for lost time,” said Elizabeth Hughes, 44, an occupational therapist in Chicago who made a scrapbook of places she wanted to visit in Europe during the peak of the pandemic. She is currently in London starting a four-week tour of eight countries including France, Italy and Greece. “I had to sell my car to make ends meet, but if I’m traveling that far, I’ll look everywhere,” she said.
Demand is so high that many travel consultants have had to turn away customers looking to book holidays to popular European destinations in July and August due to lack of availability.
“Two weeks ago I had a request for Greece last minute and I reached out to our suppliers to see if there was a way to accommodate them. But there was nothing out there, so, unfortunately, I had to close the business,” said AB Lagman, founder of Blissful Travel Company, A travel agency based in the US.