Britons are still travelling abroad to long-haul destinations, despite Brexit uncertainty and climate fears, currency buying habits indicates.
Ten of the fastest growing currencies registered sale increases of 30 per cent or more and were all for long haul destinations, according to Post Office Travel Money’s latest holiday money index.
This is despite sterling being weaker now against nearly half of the top 40 currencies annually.
The Japanese yen has seen the biggest increase with 2019 sales rising 42 per cent compared with the year before – despite it being among a number of Far Eastern currencies against which sterling has fallen significantly.
Japanese yen has seen the biggest increase with 2019 sales rising 42% compared to last year
One of the key reasons for this has been the Rugby World Cup, which is this year being hosted by Japan. Subsequently, there has been a 233 per cent rise in yen sales during September.
Another factor is the low cost of living in Japan with the country being rated the cheapest place to visit in the 2019 Post Office long-haul holiday report, which explains why the country is attracting growing number of visitors.
Michael Brown, Senior Analyst at currency firm Caxton said: ‘The general trend for the Pound against the Japanese yen has been downwards so far this year.
‘The Japanese yen tends to strengthen in times of increasing geopolitical risk i.e. rising US-China trade tensions, risk of no-deal Brexit etc. It was at its highest in February this year at 148.87, and lowest at 126.55 in August.’
Following England Rugby team’s Saturday victory against Australia in the Rugby World Cup, England fans have also been jumping onto travel booking site Skyscanner in search for flights to Tokyo to support the England team as they face the All Blacks this coming Saturday.
Joanna Lumley travelled around Japan for a three part ITV series called Joanna Lumley’s Japan
Skyscanner has not only seen a sharp increase of 670 per cent in flight searches from the UK to Tokyo in the lead up to the semi-final, the global travel booking site is also reporting a 492 per cent increase of those actually going ahead and travelling out to Tokyo for the semi-final.
After hosting the Rugby World Cup, Japan won’t have much downtime before it starts to prepare to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Held in the capital, Tokyo, the sports event is due to take place between 24 July to 9 August 2020 with spectators from all over the world due to fly to the city to cheer on their athletes.
Joanna Lumley’s Japan, a documentary on ITV, is also likely to have helped increase the popularity of the country.
In the three part series, Lumley travels over 2,000 miles around Japan visiting different areas and exploring local landmarks.
The show has recently been repeated thanks to positive reviews and increased interest about the country in the wake of the Rugby World Cup and upcoming Olympics.
|Currency||Percentage change in a year|
|Source: Post Office Travel Money|
We still love the Caribbean in winter
Similarly, there has been high levels of growth for the Trinidad and Tobago dollar with sales increasing by 53 per cent year on year in 2019 to date, accelerating to 205 per cent in September.
The Trinidad and Tobago dollar was one of a number of Caribbean currencies to register big year-on-year sales increases last month, suggesting that Caribbean holidays are a popular choice this winter.
Both the Jamaican and Barbados dollar also rose in sales by 37 and 36 per cent, respectively, in September whilst there was an increase of 32 per cent in Dominican peso sales and six per cent growth for the East Caribbean dollar.
One reason for the increase is likely to be that resort prices have been falling, according to the Post Office’s long-haul holiday beach barometer, with prices dropping by 32.4 per cent in Antigua, whilst prices are down eight per cent in St Lucia and 8.6 per cent in Tobago.
Nick Boden, Post Office head of travel money, said: ‘Holidaymakers are now recognising that it is not just exchange rates that affect how far their holiday budget will stretch.
‘Sterling may have weakened against many currencies but only 55 per cent of holidaymakers told us that this is a big issue for them.
‘Far more of them – over three-quarters according to our latest research – are worried about the prices they will face in resorts so it is understandable that they are picking destinations where the cost of meals, drinks and other staples is lower.’
The Post Office also says that both euro and US dollar sales have also remained strong.
Trinidad and Tobago proved Caribbean is a popular destination as it had big increases
Britons heading to Costa Rica, Chile and Peru
Latin America is another region that is set to be popular with long haul travellers as three currencies from that area feature in the Post Office’s fastest growing currencies for September 2019.
The Costa Rica colon has seen a 41 per cent rise in sales despite having risen 3.4 per cent against sterling since last October.
The Chilean peso also saw an increase of 35 per cent and the Peruvian Nuevo sol rose by 30 per cent, showing strong growth.
Other examples of resorts travellers are heading to cut down on costs include Bali and Vietnam.
Local prices in Kuta in Bali and Hoi An in Vietnam are the lowest out of the 16 destinations surveyed for the Post Office by Travelbag researchers despite their currencies being among ten that have strengthened most against sterling year-on-year.
The Indonesian rupiah is 8.2 per cent stronger than a year ago and the Vietnamese dong has risen 1.9 per cent.
Dubai is another holiday destination where prices have fallen whilst its currency has strengthened against the sterling.
|Currency||Difference between September 2018
versus September 2019
|Costa Rican colon||41%|
|Peru nuevo sol||30%|
|Source: Post Office Travel Money|
Cheap getaway: Kuta in Bali is one of the most popular resorts thanks to the low local prices
The beach barometer, which looks at how much holidaymakers pay when visiting some of the most popular beach resorts this year, revealed a 13.3 per cent drop in resort costs at the same time that Dubai’s currency, the UAE dirham, has risen 1.3 per cent against sterling.
However, sterling’s biggest year on year falls in value have been against the Egyptian pound which is down 10.6 per cent and Thai baht which dropped by 8.3 per cent.
Rising local prices in Thailand’s top resort, Phuket, have compounded the impact of the weak pound.
|Currency||Percentage change in one year|
|Costa Rican colon||-3.40%|
|Source: Post Office Travel Money|
Pound performs well against Scandinavian currencies
Meanwhile, in Europe, UK holidaymakers will get more foreign currency for their money in Scandinavia.
Throughout the winter months, Norway attracts UK visitors wishing to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which has led to sterling strengthening by 10.1 per cent year-on-year against the Norwegian krone.
The UK pound is also 6.4 per cent stronger against the Swedish kronor and has risen 5.4 per cent against the Icelandic krona.
The Hungarian forint against the pound should provide an incentive for people to visit Budapest, which recently topped the chart for best value cities for a cultural break.
With sterling now 4.8 per cent stronger than a year ago, the Hungarian capital is likely to be a top choice for the Christmas markets.
Nick Boden added: ‘No-one really knows what is going to happen to sterling in the coming weeks, so the best advice for those planning holidays abroad is to do their homework on resort and city costs and set a realistic budget.
‘Our research reveals an average overseas spend of over £500 so it makes sense to take advantage of the improved exchange rates offered in our branches and online when you change this amount.
‘Changing money abroad could cost more as rates may be poor and charges made on ATM transactions.’
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