Post Office Travel Money reports that people planning holidays abroad could have more than £100 extra to spend when changing £500 into foreign currency - provided they pick their destination carefully.
Sterling has risen year-on-year against all of the Post Office’s top 40 holiday currencies and by at least 10% against more than half of them. As a result holidaymakers will be ‘quids in’ in all the most popular overseas destinations – including transatlantic hotspots and Far Eastern favourites.
The company's head of travel money, Andrew Brown, said: “The biggest jump in sterling’s value is currently against the South African rand. In a year when many people will want to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela as South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, UK visitors will get almost 37% more for their pounds. That equates to more than £134 extra to spend when they change £500.
“But UK tourists can look forward to having more spending money in every holiday hotspot this year and they will be even better off if they pick a destination where local prices are down. Our barometer research found that resort prices were as much as 56% higher last year than they are now, so it will be well worth doing some holiday homework before booking an overseas trip.”
According to the report, transatlantic travellers visiting the Caribbean will have most to gain in Jamaica where the pound will buy 28% more Jamaican dollars than a year ago. Plummeting prices in island restaurants mean local costs are down as well. There are sterling gains of around 10-15% against all the other Caribbean currencies too, which means good deals for UK tourists visiting St Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, Tobago and the Dominican Republic.
Sun-seekers heading to the Far East can also get much more for their money. Sterling has made strides against currencies for every Asian destination including Bali (rupiah +33%) and Vietnam (dong +10%), where tour operator Travelbag is reporting a 79% surge in demand. In Thailand, the UK’s Far East favourite, tourists will not only have nearly 20% extra cash to spend – around £82 on a £500 currency transaction - but resort prices in Phuket are lower too.
Meanwhile, Mexico has become a big favourite with wallet-watchers keen to take advantage of cheap prices for five-star hotels. Even though sterling fell in value against the Mexican peso during 2013, peso sales soared by a third to register a huge growth of 248% in just five years, proving the destination’s popularity. Now sterling has strengthened 14% year-on-year to regain its 2012 value and the forecast looks bright for Mexico again this year.
Closer to home in Europe, the best deals will be for city break holidaymakers planning trips to Russian cities or to Prague and Budapest, the cheapest cities in the Post Office City Costs Barometer. The Russian ruble has dropped in value by more than 9% since the beginning of this year and is currently worth more than 29% less against the pound than last February, giving visitors over £113 extra cash when they change £500.