Holidaymakers go the extra mile for a stronger pound

South Africa, Argentina and Mexico are expected to be among the most popular holiday destinations next year as Britons seek out countries where the pound is still strong. Travel enthusiasts, thus, are not only looking at cheaper flight tickets and offers on the same (from sites such as Flight Factory), but are also considering options in relation to their country’s currency situation.

The emergence of the “currency-conscious traveller” is expected to be one of the key travel trends as volatile sterling exchange rates encourage holidaymakers to travel further afield. Fear of terrorist attacks in Europe and North Africa is also contributing to the rising popularity of holidays to South America, Central America and Asia.

“With currency fluctuations expected to continue next year this is influencing holiday decisions,” Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, the tour operators’ body, said. “South Africa is expecting to see large numbers of British holidaymakers in 2017 and one major travel company is reporting a 50 per cent increase in bookings to Goa for winter sun.”

A surge in bookings has also been reported for Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Japan and Vietnam. The findings are confirmed in the Post Office Travel Money’s hot list for next year, which indicates that sales of the Chilean peso have increased by 30 per cent in the past year.

“Our fastest-growing currency for the past two years has been the Costa Rican colón and there seems little reason to doubt that its growth can continue into 2017,” Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said. “Meanwhile Chile will become more accessible with the introduction of the first non-stop service linking Heathrow with Santiago.”

Tourists are also rejecting traditional European holiday destinations after terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Munich and Berlin. The French tourism industry endured its worst year in decades after the attacks in Paris in November 2015, despite hosting the European football championships. Tourism bosses in Paris reported a €750 million shortfall in revenue this year, with visitor numbers down by almost 50 per cent at attractions such as the Grand Palais. “The tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster,” Frédéric Valletoux, head of the Paris region tourist board, said.

Beach resorts have also suffered after terrorist attacks, with hotspots such as Egypt and Tunisia virtually closed to British tourists. Last week Thomas Cook said that it would not offer holidays to Sharm el-Sheikh next year regardless of any change to travel advice from the Foreign Office. The department barred British airlines from flying to Sharm el-Sheikh airport after the downing of a Russian Metrojet flight last year.

With many traditional winter sun resorts off limits British holidaymakers are increasingly looking to long-haul destinations. High street tour operators are also reporting a growth in holiday bookings to countries where the pound remains strong.

Nikki Davies, a spokeswoman for Trailfinders, said: “We have seen a surge in bookings to Thailand, South Africa and Canada in recent months and this trend is set to continue as we move into 2017. All our standout destinations are currently places where the pound goes furthest.”

Currency fluctuations are also likely to result in a surge in all-inclusive holiday bookings as tourists look to avoid extra spending once abroad. According to Abta, 18 per cent of Britons took an all-inclusive holiday this year, while a quarter plan to take one next year.

Where your money goes further
Argentina 1 = 19.28
The pound has rocketed against the peso in the past few years. It’s set to become a hotspot for Britons.

Mexico 1 = 25.28 The pound is almost 30 per cent stronger against the peso than it was five years ago and up almost 3 per cent compared with last year.

Chile 1 = 827.14 New direct flights to Santiago start on January 3. With the Andes as an impressive backdrop, the capital has been bolstered by new hotel openings and an attractive exchange rate between the peso and sterling.

Japan 1 = 143.69 The opening of the new bullet train from Tokyo to Hokkaido has made the northernmost island more accessible. It has some of the country’s most dramatic scenery, made more attractive by the pound/yen rate.

South Africa 1 = 17.17 Compared with five years ago Britons now get 46 per cent more rand for their money. The laid-back city of Cape Town has been working hard to bolster its cultural attractions alongside its safari resorts.

Costa Rica 1 = 680.15 Its deserted beaches are increasingly popular with British tourists benefitting from an attractive rate against the colón.