Brits flocking to euro zone countries for cheaper holidays: Greece most preferred destination

By @diplomatist10 on
A recently-married couple from Poland, Dominika and Bartek Mieczkowski, kiss as they pose for their own photographer in front of an iron grill covered with "love locks" on the Pont de Arts over the River Seine in Paris, France, May 31, 2015.
A recently married couple from Poland, Dominika and Bartek Mieczkowski, kiss as they pose for their own photographer in front of an iron grill covered with "love locks" on the Pont de Arts over the River Seine in Paris, France, May 31, 2015. Reuters/John Schults

Powered by the strong pound and economic unrest in the euro zone, more Britons are splashing money on continental holidays in 2015-the cheapest year for holidaying in a decade. With £1 (AU$2.17) becoming almost €1.40 (AU$2.2) in terms of exchange rates, holidays to the 19 euro zone countries are 12 percent cheaper than they were in 2014.

Among the new destinations, Greece is the most prominent, according to the largest travel association in the U.K., the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta). This is despite the migrant crisis in Kos and other tourist spots.

 “The information we’re receiving from our members is that European holidays are generally on the rise. Britons always prefer going abroad if they can, roughly at a 60-40 ratio. The only change was following the credit crunch when many families just didn’t have the money to go abroad. The growing strength of pound has helped and the euro zone crisis means several countries such as Greece and Spain are reducing their prices in a bid to attract tourists,” a spokesman for Abta said.

Travel companies have also confirmed the rush of holiday travellers in spite of regional troubles. The top four eurozone destinations for Britons are Spain, France, Portugal and Italy, with the United States, taking the fifth slot, reports The Independent .

Cheapest in a decade

Holidaying Britons bring an average £450 (AU$976) spending money with them when they travel, but the falling value of Euro means those heading to  Spain, France or Italy could potentially save more than £50 (AU$108). However, the response of Brits to Tunisia and Turkey remain muted despite Turkey offering better value for the pound than euro zone countries, with its holidays costing less 20 percent less this year than 2014. Concerns about Turkish lira falling victim to political uncertainty and the war against ISIS in neighbouring Syria are holding back many visitors.

For those really looking for a bigger bargain though, there is no better place to visit than Ukraine where the currency Hryvnia has weakened nearly 75 percent against the Sterling. For tourists heading to Orlando or Geneva, the news is less positive as the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and Swiss franc have made holidays more costly by seven and one percent respectively, reports Sky News.

Domestic travel

However, the surge in foreign travel to euro zone countries has not dimmed the passion for scouring domestic destinations, attests companies offering British staycations. Many such companies are experiencing a significant uptick in business.

York-based Park Leisure, which owns 11 holiday parks across the U.K., claimed it had a 56 percent rise in turnover compared to 2014. Attributing it to families spending more on holidays, Chief executive Gary Molloy said the situation in some countries, including Greece and Tunisia are making people turn to domestic destinations for safer vacations.

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