Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 12:37 UK

Eurozone holidaymakers feel pinch

By Chris Mason
BBC News, St Tropez

Sugden family
The Sugdens are cutting back on food and drink to save money

"Two pounds fifty for a choc ice!" shouts Jacqueline Sugden with mock horror.

Mrs Sugden, 52, from Basildon in Essex, is here on the Cote d'Azur with her family - and they all say they are having to be more careful with their money because of the exchange rate.

One euro is currently worth about 80p. A year ago it was the equivalent of 68p.

For the Sugdens and for others that means less bang for their buck - or less ice cream for their pounds.

St Tropez might be the ultimate playground for the rich and famous, with luxury yachts zipping across the bay and helicopters whisking those who have just arrived - and can afford it - straight to Monaco.

But there are plenty of ordinary families here as well camping or renting villas.

Many booked their holidays before the exchange rate took a tumble and the economy a stumble.

We've found that the places we go to on a regular basis are noticeably more expensive
Matt Kelly, holidaymaker

Mrs Sugden's husband, Peter, 65, chats away with a huge, three storey yacht improbably called My Little Violet bobbing away in the calm Mediterranean behind him.

If this is the Little Violet the big one must make the QE2 look like a dinghy.

For Mr Sugden it is the cost of an altogether more humble orange juice this year that has really struck him.

"On the train down Orangina cost a fiver for two small cans. We'll be on the water on the way back," he remarks.

A few miles down the coast there are a string of beachside restaurants on the Plage de la Nartelle. The beaches are teeming - but not with Brits.

The Dutch, Danes and French predominate and Ric Barroilhet, 50, who has run the Barco Beach restaurant for eight years, has noticed a change.

Ric Barroilhet
Ric Barroilhet says less Brits are visiting the region

"I think the Brits who have houses here and come here regularly are still coming," he says.

"But the tourists who come here because they are passing through or have booked a villa for a few weeks, you don't see them so much.

"We certainly see a lot less British people."

And amongst those that do still come Mr Barroilhet has spotted another trend. They're not eating out as regularly.

As the temperature edges up towards 30C, I wander along the beach to a soundtrack of waves gently breaking on the white sand and children shrieking and shouting, somewhat less gently, in the warm sea.

'Cash goes quicker'

Lying on sun loungers and reading, Pippa and Matt Kelly, from Henley on Thames, are learning from the next generation that a delightful French chateau need not be medieval and made of stone.

The sand ones made with a bucket can look pretty good too and generate plenty of pride, and photos.

Mr Kelly, 39, says: "We've found that the places we go to on a regular basis are noticeably more expensive.

Beach in St Tropez
St Tropez is famed as the playground of the rich and famous

"When you go back and check your credit card it can be a surprise, but most importantly the amount of cash you bring out you get through a lot quicker."

Mrs Kelly, 41, agrees. "It's considerably more expensive than in previous years. From little things like ice creams for the children and toys for the beach all the way through to car hire, which was a lot more this year."

The Kellys toyed with going to America instead because of the very favourable exchange rate for Britons heading to the States.

But the thought of a long flight with the children put them off.

Credit crunch

Despite the exchange rate, bookings to the Eurozone remain strong this summer.

But travel agents are reporting a surge in interest in countries such as Bulgaria and Turkey where the cost of hotels, food and drink can be much less.

Douglas O'Neill, a transport analyst at Blue Oar Securities, thinks the combined effect of the exchange rate and the credit crunch may tempt more of us, after the summer, to stay at home.

"So far we haven't seen any changes to annual booking levels from the UK," he said.

"But the concern is once long booked summer holidays are out of the way, people might not book as many more trips."

And those that do might just be advised to adopt Mrs Sugden's choc ice test.

If it costs a fortune think of the wallet and indeed the waistline - and buy a few less.


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