- Summer success for Destinations ‘Down Under’ as New Zealand dollar tops list of Post Office Travel Money Fastest Growing Currencies for June-August
- Strong pound and falling prices make Japan an affordable holiday option
- Winter sun success looms for Peru and Costa Rica after currency sales boom
- Eastern Europe set to score for autumn breaks as sales surge for Czech and Hungarian currencies
- Sterling is at a 10-year high against Turkish lira but currency sales are down
As a new term signals the end of the school holidays and a start to the winter sun season, Destinations ‘Down Under’ have emerged alongside Japan as the biggest success stories in Post Office Travel Money’s Fastest Growing Currencies report for June-August¹. Australia, New Zealand and Japan have all benefited from sterling’s surge in value this year and its continuing strength looks set to fuel heavy demand for winter trips as canny travellers respond to the value available.
The annual review of summer bestsellers by the UK’s biggest foreign exchange provider reveals year-on-year sales growth of 56 per cent for the New Zealand dollar just at a time when the currency had weakened over 20 per cent against the strong pound. The same applies to the Australian dollar, which has also weakened over 20 per cent in recent months. Consumers responded to this and Post Office Travel Money sales mushroomed 39 per cent.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: “The surge in sales we have seen for the Australian and New Zealand dollars is a clear indication holidaymakers are becoming increasingly astute and doing their homework to see when exchange rates are in their favour. These may not be the cheapest places to visit but they are among the world’s most aspirational destinations and the power of the pound provides a great incentive to make this the year to visit.”
The same applies to Japan, where the yen has remained weak against sterling all year. A 34 per cent year-on-year increase in visitors reported by its tourist office during July² shows that visitors have been quick to take advantage of the strong pound and a fall in flight prices. Latent demand for Japan, one of Post Office Travel Money’s 2015 Top Ten Hotspots³, has resulted in a 52 per cent increase in summer sales of the Japanese yen compared with 2014, making it the second Fastest Growing Currency.
Andrew Brown said: “Over the past five years sterling has strengthened by almost 50 per
cent against the yen and the extra cash in tourists’ pockets means that Japan should no longer be regarded only as a luxury destination. Better still, our latest barometer research reveals that local prices in Tokyo are down 25 per cent as well.”
Another 2015 Hotlist tip has proved a stellar success, both during the summer and for the year as a whole. Costa Rica’s colon tops the list of Fastest Growing Currencies for 2015 to date with sales growth of 46 per cent year-on-year and also joins another Latin-American country, Peru (Nuevo sol +37 per cent), in the summer growth chart with an increase of 28 per cent from June to August. This augurs well for the winter season when direct 787 Dreamliner flights will bring its competitively-priced beach resorts to the mass market.
Long haul destinations continue to dominate the Fastest Growing Currencies summer chart as they have for the past seven years – taking eight of the top 10 places. Currency sales have risen by almost a third for the fifth-placed Indonesian rupiah, suggesting a buoyant time ahead for its most popular resort, Bali. Dubai has gained further ground against Middle East competitor Egypt and sales of its currency, the UAE dirham, have strengthened 22 per cent.
The Vietnamese dong (+21 per cent) is the only currency to retain its top 10 place this year. This is the fifth consecutive year that Vietnam’s currency has featured in the growth chart and in that time sales have grown five-fold. Vietnam could expect to gain further ground this autumn if political unrest continues to depress demand for Thailand.
In Europe, city break destinations like the Czech Republic, Hungary and Russia appear to have attracted more visitors. While euro sales have been buoyant, making it the bestselling currency during the summer and in 2015 to date4, Post Office Travel Money currency trends indicate that the big growth in demand has been for Eastern European currencies. Russia (Ruble +31 per cent) and the Czech Republic (Koruna +22 per cent) feature in sixth and ninth places in the summer growth chart while the Hungarian forint (+22 per cent) is the year’s eighth-placed bestselling currency. All three have benefited from sterling’s strength.
Andrew Brown said: “Cities like Prague and Budapest have a great reputation for value and we expect these to be popular short break destinations this autumn – especially for Christmas Markets visits. The Russian ruble has collapsed in value this year and is currently worth around 70 per cent less than last September so Moscow and St Petersburg could also prove popular with adventurous holidaymakers.”
Turkey suffered another disappointing summer and the Turkish lira was the only Post Office bestseller to show a sizeable fall in demand. Ironically, the lira has now fallen to its lowest rate against sterling in over a decade, which means UK tourists visiting Turkey in the coming weeks can expect to receive over 30 per cent more lira for their pounds than a year ago.
30 currencies are available on demand at 1,600 larger Post Office branches, while over 10,000 offer euro over the counter and 4,000 offer US dollars and Turkish lira. Up to 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery.
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