UK skiers should benefit from better value in Europe this winter, thanks to a sterling recovery against 2009’s rock bottom exchange rates. In its fourth annual 'Where to Ski Resort Report', Post Office Travel Money has named Italy’s Cervinia as cheapest in its survey of the world’s top ski resorts.Meanwhile Romania leads a trio of Eastern European destinations offering the ‘best value’ budget resorts. The company suggests that exchange rates will play a key role this season, with Eurozone skiers having almost 8% more cash in their pockets than in 2009 if sterling continues to hold its value, and the same applies to skiers visiting Bulgaria (+5.2%) or Romania (+8.2%). But a 6.3% strengthening of the Swiss franc means those heading for the Swiss Alps will need to dig deeper.
Transatlantic trips will also come at a higher premium this winter as sterling’s weakness against the Canadian dollar (-8.1%) will make the Rocky Mountain resorts of Whistler and Banff more expensive. But not as expensive as the USA’s Vail and Big Sky resorts, highest priced in the survey, where higher ski equipment and lift pass costs could put Colorado and Montana beyond many UK pockets. For details see www.postoffice.co.uk/skireport2010
Meanwhile, Thailand has lost its long-standing best value rating to Sri Lanka in Post Office Travel Money’s new 'Long Haul Holiday Report' for 2010. On top of a turbulent year for Thai tourism, the Far East favourite slid to sixth place in the Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer after prices rose 16%. Instead, the report found that UK tourists looking to save money should head to Sri Lanka or runners-up Mexico and Kenya. The strengthening of the Thai baht - now worth 11.6% more than last September - was to blame for the higher costs in Phuket, rather than resort price hikes. Local prices rose by just 3%, according to the research.
Sri Lanka emerges as clear winner in the barometer. At £46.85 for a ‘basket’ of ten tourist items including meals and drinks, prices were more than 11% lower than in Thailand and over two-thirds less than in Australia, most expensive of 22 destinations surveyed.
UK visits to Sri Lanka are already on a high – up 51% year-on-year in July - and a combination of low-cost packages and resort prices should boost visitor numbers in the coming months according to the company. In a surprise result, Dubai, a new addition to the report and with a reputation as a high-priced destination, has beaten competitor Egypt to emerge as a cheaper option for UK travellers looking for a mid-haul holiday. At £80.38 for the ten tourist items, Dubai was 6.7% cheaper than Egypt, traditionally thought of as good value for money but where prices have risen 36% over the past year.
Across the Atlantic, prices have risen 30% in Miami, mostly because of the increased cost of eating out, and are also up, by a more modest 6%, in Jamaica, cheapest of three Caribbean islands surveyed.