The Algarve or Turkey? Or Bali? Or…

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Algarve

According to them, prices are down in 28 of the 44 destinations surveyed for the Post Office’s annual report Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer with the biggest falls of 30-32 per cent in Jamaica, Japan and the Gambia. Bali emerges as best value overall while Portugal’s Algarve is cheapest in Europe.

Resort prices in Portugal and Spain provide the report’s most unexpected story. Even though sterling is still weaker as wrote a little while ago, year-on-year against the euro (-1.9 per cent), prices have dropped 18 per cent in the Algarve. As a result, Portugal emerges as Europe’s cheapest destination for the first time since 2010.

But our most popular holiday destination, Spain, is the only eurozone country surveyed to register a significant price rise. A 22 per cent increase in meal costs on the Costa del Sol accounts for the overall rise in the price of eight typical tourist items to around £39, which means that Spain falls from joint first place in last year’s Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer to sixth position.

In the eurozone Portugal is not the only destination surveyed where prices for UK tourists will be lower. Resorts in Paphos, Corfu and Sorrento are also cheaper, although Italy remains most expensive in the eurozone – and in Europe overall – with a barometer basket costing around £81, over twice as much as either Spain or Portugal.

Portugal and Spain can also expect to come under pressure from non-eurozone sunspots. Croatia is one of 10 Post Office Holiday Hotspots for 2014 and Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach has risen to fifth cheapest in the barometer although a TV reality series about it may encourage more visitors. With prices down 10 per cent to £38.46, this is tipped as a good bet for wallet-watchers.

Best of all, a five-year low in the value of the lira means Turkey’s leading resort, Marmaris, shares with the Algarve the distinction of Europe’s biggest price fall. At around £41 for the essentials, UK tourists will pay 19 per cent less in Marmaris than a year ago. The resulting move up to seventh place in the barometer table brings Turkey close to long term rival Spain.

Marmaris

Further afield, Vietnam is named as one of 10 Post Office Holiday Hotspots for the third year. Direct flights from the UK, cheap resort prices and a new crop of boutique beach hotels helped to stimulate a 94 per cent year-on-year surge in Vietnamese dong sales in 2013 – the biggest growth for any currency – with a cumulative increase of over 200 per cent in just two years.

South Africa is also named among the 10 Holiday Hotspots in the Holiday Money Report. As the country prepares to celebrate 20 years of democracy, Nelson Mandela’s recent death will renew interest in the country for UK travellers, while the rand’s continuing weakness against sterling will provide an added incentive. UK tourists are currently getting almost 28 per cent more rand for their pounds than a year ago and prices down 17 per cent year-on-year make Cape Town (£41.81) a top 10 value destination in the Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer.

In its forecast of likely trends for 2014, Post Office Travel Money tips Myanmar, Qatar and the Philippines as emerging destinations to watch. Burma is opening up to tourism with a rash of escorted tours designed to lead the way for more adventurous tourists and the re-introduction of direct flights from Heathrow to Manila should also help to stimulate demand for the Philippines. A year-on-year growth of 44 per cent in sales of the Philippino piso suggests that this move is already underway. In the luxury market, Qatar is tipped for success for the third year running after sales of the riyal grew a further 31 per cent in 2013.

So will it be the Algarve or Turkey this year for the holiday. Should you give Spain a miss? We’ll only know in about a year’s time what actually tempted you.

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