The trend for international leisure travelers to combine a visit to Britain with a quick Channel hop to Europe via Eurostar held steady throughout 2011. The number of visitors from outside the EU grew by 20% with this segment of the market now accounting for 9% of all Eurostar traffic. The main non-European users of Eurostar come from the United States, Latin America and South East Asia.
And why not? If you were touring New England to see the foliage, or visiting historic sites and national parks in the American Southwest, you'd think nothing of going back and forth across several state lines to cover all the sites. Crossing the English Channel these days is pretty much the same thing, in terms of time and cost, and yet a world apart in that you get to experience several European countries on one short trip.
If you are looking for something to do after the London 2012 Olympics, these days, a trip on Eurostar can be an integral part of your European tour. Why not indulge in some lateral thinking and cross the channel for a short break, a two center vacation, or even for lunch.
Why not lunch?
London to Paris is just over two hours. Brussels, where they dip their fries in mayo and drink lambic beer, is even closer. If you have a bit more time to spare, you could travel from London to Marseilles, city center to city center, in about five and a half-hours - not that long when you consider how much time you waste on all the to-ing and fro-ing involved with air travel.
And it works both ways of course. If you've flown into a continental airport you could easily pop over here for some historic tourism in Kent, discount designer bargains in Ashford or even snoop around the Queen's house with a visit to Buckingham Palace.
For many people, a transatlantic trip is a once in a lifetime experience, involving lots of planning and saving. Once you've gone that far, popping across the Channel is easy as pie and, as we say over here, cheap as chips.