Holidaymakers look for destinations outside the EU due to weakness of the pound, says Thomas Cook

Published by Stephen Little on 29 April 2019.
Last updated on 29 April 2019

Holiday

British holidaymakers are increasingly favouring destinations outside of the European Union, new figures from Thomas Cook show.

According to the travel operator’s latest holiday report, 48% of its UK package holiday bookings for this summer are to non-EU destinations, 10 percentage points higher than same time last year.

Thomas Cook says the shift reflects the political turmoil surrounding Brexit and the weakened value of the pound compared to the euro.

Spain remains the number one holiday destination for the package tour operator’s customers.

Turkey has been the biggest beneficiary of this shift, leapfrogging Greece to become the second most popular package holiday destination.

The USA was in fourth place while Cyprus was in fifth.

Tunisia is also faring well, with bookings double what they were compared to last year.

Political uncertainty

Thomas Cook says the prolonged uncertainty around Britain’s exit from the European Union has led many people to delay their decision on when and where they book for their summer holidays.

It adds that the weakness of the pound against the euro is the most likely cause for holidaymakers’ willingness to venture further afield.

Almost half of Brits say they have been watching exchange rates more closely than previous years, with 18% saying they bought foreign exchange during the course of 2018, at times when the rates were good.

A fall in the pound is bad news for holidaymakers as it will make your trip more expensive.

This is because when the value of sterling falls anyone travelling abroad from the UK has reduced spending power as your pound buys less of the foreign currency.

Following the Brexit vote in June 2016 the pound slumped to a 31-year low on the currency markets, dropping 10% against the dollar to $1.33. Against the euro it fell from €1.32 to €1.11.

With the UK granted a six-month extension to Brexit, further volatility is expected up until the new deadline in October.

Popular destinations

Favourable exchange rates in Turkey and Tunisia make them popular destinations at the moment.

Holiday costs are also tumbling in some European resorts as they look to attract visitors.

According to the latest Post Office Travel Money Holiday Costs Barometer, Sunny Beach in Bulgaria offers the best value of the 20 European beach resorts it surveyed – a third cheaper than its closest competitor.

An evening meal for two with wine costs around £22, lunch for two is around £8, while a cup of coffee is just 70p. 

The Post Office barometer basket of nine tourist staples – comprising lunch and evening meals, drinks, suncream and insect repellent – comes in at £38.86 for Sunny Beach, around 10% lower than last year.

The Algarve offers the second best value, with a price fall of 16%, although holiday costs are 48% higher than in Bulgaria at £57.45. Marmaris in Turkey is in third place with average costs of £59.

Go all-inclusive to protect yourself

All-inclusive deals are also proving to be popular as customers look to lock in costs for peace of mind.

Thomas Cook reports that 66% of this year’s summer bookings are all-inclusive – a slight increase on last year.

With an all-inclusive holiday all flights, transfers, hotels, meal, drinks and activities are included in the fixed price you pay.

As you have already paid for all of these things before you go on holiday you are protected from any potential currency changes further down the line, which could make the cost of your trip more expensive.

Despite Brexit uncertainty, the survey of 3,422 Thomas Cook customers shows that an overseas summer holiday remains as important as ever to the nation, with more than half of those questioned saying they are more likely to holiday abroad than last year.

Will Waggott, chief of tour operating for Thomas Cook, says: “Britain may be living through unique times from a political perspective, however our desire to holiday abroad is clear.

“Thomas Cook’s 2019 Holiday Report reveals that the political turmoil is having an impact in other ways, revealing itself in a clear shift to non-EU countries and a growth in all-inclusive. Turkey has already overtaken Greece to claim the number two spot of most desirable summer destinations and Tunisia is working its way back up the popularity stakes as it re-establishes itself as a hotspot for British tourists.”

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If holidaymakers are looking

If holidaymakers are looking beyond the EU because of the weakness of sterling, they won't find it better elsewhere. The pound has fallen against most currencies, not just the euro, so if they travel further afield, arguably at greater cost anyway, the value of their cash will have fallen in other destinations too - unless they are going to Zimbabwe or Venezuela, of course.