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Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Holidays affected by weak pound

By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson, senior trader from currency trading firm Moneycorp

The weak pound is likely to affect the choice of holiday destination in 2009 according to ABTA, which represents travel agents and tour operators.

Sterling fell by more than 30% against the euro and the US dollar last year.

Egypt and Turkey, with lower living costs, are likely to benefit and both countries saw increases of more than 30% in visitors from the UK last year.

Mexico, Cuba, Dubai, Croatia and Australia are among other destinations predicted to do well this year.

Biggest winners

Spain is the most popular destination for British tourists with around 12 million holidays taken there each year.

Around seven million holidays are taken in France with more than two million in the US and Italy.

Around 1.3 million are currently taken in Turkey.

Frances Tuke from ABTA says Turkey and Egypt will do well this year:

"Last year we saw an increase in visitors to Turkey by 32% and visitors Egypt up by 38%.

"We think those will be the two biggest winners in 2009."

I still get 10 Ukrainian hriven to my pound. Bargain!
Andrew D Smith, Epsom, UK

Simon Calder, travel editor for the Independent, believes that tourists who do go to countries like Spain which have adopted the euro will be looking to make economies:

"People will be indulging in austerity tourism.

"Let's not go out for a lovely lunch in Paris, let's wait until the weather's a little bit warmer and go for a picnic in the Place des Vosges."

Holiday by numbers

The currency sterling has fared worst against in the last year is the yen.

The Japanese currency has appreciated by around 69%.

Some of the hotels won't always price their rooms in local currencies
Mark Thompson, Moneycorp
For tourists considering unusual destinations, the Laotian kip has appreciated by around 50% as has the Bolivian currency the boliviano.

There is better news for tourists intending to travel to some destinations as the pound has still appreciated considerably against several currencies.

It has risen by more than 30% against the Seychelles rupee and almost 30% against the Icelandic krona.

Even so, Mark Thompson, senior trader at the foreign currency trading firm Moneycorp, says tourists may not always benefit from the change:

"The one thing that may trip people up slightly is that you'll find that some of the hotels won't always price their rooms in local currencies.

"In Mauritius, for example, they price their rooms in euros."

Favourite destinations

The travel industry claims the demand for holidays in the 16 countries which have adopted the euro is unlikely to suffer any dramatic fall.

Frances Tuke from ABTA says a lot of British people have established ties:

"I still believe Spain will be way up there in terms of our favourite destinations.

"A lot of people have second homes over there for instance."

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday,
3 January 2009 at 1204 GMT.

Money Box



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