IIn recent days, the pound has plunged to its lowest level against the US dollar since decimalisation in 1971. Before the pandemic, buying $100 worth of currency would have cost you around 76 pounds; this week tourist rates have left the cost close to parity, at around £98. And it’s not just the dollar that weighs on the pound – over the past year it has shrunk against dozens of currencies, with shopping, sightseeing, food and drink now costlier in holiday favorites from Mexico to Australia.
A weak currency is not the only limit to holiday valuation. The UK’s negative wage growth rate has left it 29th out of 38 nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. As wages have risen abroad, prices increased in the UK, widening the accessibility gap for UK travelers and forcing tour operators to seek value in destinations such as Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
The decline, however, is not universal. Over the past 12 months, the pound has strengthened in several favorite tourist destinations. At the top of the list is Turkey, where the purchasing power of the pound has increased by 80% compared to the same period last year (at the time of writing). Sri Lanka, Argentina and Hungary are among the others.
It is important to remember, however, that a favorable exchange rate does not necessarily make these destinations cheaper. First, greedy UK money changers will trick you, as the retail rate for travelers is less favorable than the interbank exchange rate that banks charge each other. Second, some countries just can’t compete – in the case of Argentina, the collision of 78% inflation, high flight prices and hotel prices in US dollars prohibits hunters for the time being. good deals ; while in Sweden the cost of drinks, groceries and meals is about the same as in the UK.
However, there is also real added value, and here’s where to find it.
*All holidays include flights
Tui Blue Sensatori in Fethiye
The collapse of the Turkish currency has left the pound healthy, with the pound worth around 21 lira today, compared to 12 last September. This does not mean, however, that we are almost twice as full in Fethiye: the 80% increase in the purchasing power of the British is accompanied by a similar rate of inflation in Turkey. Despite this, the country still offers the best value for money in the Mediterranean. According to the Post Office’s Family Holiday Beach Barometer, a typical shopping basket that was £186 in Ibiza, £154 in Croatia and £133 in Corfu costs just £86 in Marmaris.
The best deals for next fall and summer are with the two major tour operators. The pick for this semester is seven nights all-inclusive at Tui Blue Sensatori in Fethiye from £899 pp (tui.co.uk); This June, the best value in Bodrum is seven nights all-inclusive at the five-star Voyage Bodrum from £1,165 pp (jet2holidays.com).
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic Kandy, central Sri Lanka
“Holiday prices will be higher now than they were in 2019,” says Sam Clark of Sri Lanka specialist Experience Travel Group. “Flight prices are up and hotel prices are in dollars, but once there the cost of living is cheaper.” The trick is to keep your hotel expenses to a bare minimum and spread the love by eating out (no sacrifice in Sri Lanka), booking excursions with tour operators happy to get paid in rupees, and avoiding the souvenir shop on site. Lunch costs around £2; dinner for two in a good restaurant £12. A five-mile taxi ride costs £2 including tip, while a day trip with one of the island’s superb driver-guides costs from £30, or around 35 pence per mile ( bluelankatours.com). The cheapest accommodation deal we found was a seven-night B&B from £995 pp next April at the Goldi Sands Hotel on Negombo beach (tui.co.uk). Alternatively, try a slow-paced two-week family tour from £2,850 pp B&B, covering culture, wildlife and the beach (experiencetravelgroup.com).
Japan has announced the lifting of pandemic-related border controls from October 11, allowing visa-free travel for tourists and an end to the group travel requirement. Pre-arrival testing has already been abolished and tourism businesses in Japan are hoping the ease of entry combined with the weak yen will trigger a surge in arrivals. Trailfinders’ Classic Japan Itinerary is a value-for-money ten-night self-guided tour from £3,185 pp B&B, aimed at those happy to mix independent travel with the odd excursion tour, visiting Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Osaka (trailfinders.com). Prefer to be guided through the islands? Book a 16-day room-only guided group tour of ancient and modern Japan from £5,799 pp, visiting Kyoto, Tokyo and all points in between, including snow monkeys at Jigokudani onsen (exodus .co.uk).
The Kempinski Soma Bay on the Red Sea, Egypt
Egypt is one of the few destinations where the price of package holidays has fallen. October semester week at Grand Waterworld Makadi in Hurghada was £935 pp last October; this year it is available from £903 pp – evidence, perhaps, of a temporary price easing prompted by the absence of many Russian and Ukrainian tourists, who accounted for 40% of Egypt’s tourism GDP. However, you have to shop around: a week’s half-board at the five-star Kempinski Soma Bay from Luton on January 17 came to £772 with On the Beach; £714 pp with Love Holidays; and £655 with Broadway Travel. Cruise deals are harder to find. The Nile is all the rage, especially with big-spending American tourists, and the launch of Viking’s Osiris in August – the first of four pharaonic luxury floating hotels – is a sign of confidence in the future. That, coupled with the publicity generated by the UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in November, can only drive prices up, so book now – 12-night all-inclusive cruises from £6,065 per person are selling out fast, with only 11 departures remaining between now and next May (viking.com).
Christmas market in Old Town Square, Warsaw, Poland
The strength of the euro means that Germany may not offer the best value for money for Christmas markets this winter. This is not the case in Poland, where the pound bought around five zlotys last week – a dinner for two in a local pub costs around £15; tickets for Gisele at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw from £6; and a dry martini in a bar in Krakow costs less than £5. The Warsaw Christmas Market opens on November 25, when just three nights at nearby Mamaison Le Regina hotel in the former Mokrowski Palace is from £225 pp (britishairways.com). The Krakow market starts the same day; the Armon Residence is a cozy spot in the Kazimierz district on the Vistula River, with three nights’ B&B from £212 pp (easyjet.com).
The Hungarian Parliament building on the Danube, Budapest
If you think we’re in trouble, consider this: In 2001, Hungary had about 1 trillion forints in circulation. Today, inflation has pushed that figure up to around $8.4 trillion, with prices rising so rapidly that the Hungarian National Bank is considering issuing a 50,000 forint note. Soaring energy prices are forcing hotels and restaurants across the country to close, either permanently or until the end of winter; Budapest’s Cukraszda, one of the city’s oldest patisseries, is among the earliest. “It’s war,” said a hotelier. “We do not receive any guests from Russia or Ukraine, and our proximity to the conflict keeps visitors from other countries away. We are a city whose economy is based on tourism, and it is collapsing. Whether you want to visit a city in decline a la Weimar is up to you, but Budapest has a knack for survival, and it could use custom. Holiday costs of living are on par with Poland, but hotel prices are self-defeating – a night at the five-star Marriott in Warsaw costs £122, according to booking.com, but the same night at the Budapest Marriott is £234 £. The best boutiquey deal we could find was a three-night B&B stay next month at the Roombach Hotel near the Opera House from £310 pp (easyjet.co.uk).
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