Barbara Steur of Amsterdam says she knows a bargain when she sees one. The US Open in New York still qualifies, even after the dollar rose last week to the highest level against the euro in almost seven months. “For us, it’s still rather attractive to come here,” said Steur, a marketing adviser in Amsterdam. European fans such as Steur, who normally flock to the French Open and Wimbledon, are traveling to the year’s final Grand Slam in New York. They’re getting “more bang for their buck”, said Andrew Chmura, owner of Grand Slam Tours in Stowe, Vermont. The seller of tennis packages is headed for the best Open in its 17-year history after selling out. This year’s bookings from Europe rose 50% from last year, Chmura said. The euro was still up 6.5% against the dollar since last year’s US Open. “Forget London or Paris; the US Open is the Grand Slam of the year,” said Stefan van Buuren, 25, an equity salesman in Amsterdam. “It’s top tennis in a top city.” The strengthening of the dollar didn’t stop Van Buuren from spending $4,000 on a four-day trip to the Open with two friends in hopes of seeing his favourite player, defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland. Chmura’s Grand Slam tours was selling four-day packages to the US Open, which includes dinner with former champions Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle and courtside seats to as many as five tennis sessions, for about 1,200 pounds ($2,140), excluding flights.
Total attendance for the two-week event may jump to a record of more than 720,000 from last year’s 715,587, the USTA said. The exchange rate isn’t the only thing bringing Europeans to New York. The rivalry between Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal also is driving interest, said Lars Kappen, owner and director of Sports and the City, an Amsterdam-based agency that sells travel packages. “Tennis is something new.” The USTA estimated that 48% of the crowd came from outside New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, up from 25% eight years ago. The face value of US Open tickets ranges from $22 in the promenade to as much as $800 for a front-row seat at the men’s final. “It’s so cheap for us here because of the euro. We’re saving a lot of money while shopping,” said Berta Jorro, who works in Madrid.”
6 months ago