Destination Europe for UK holidaymakers

19th January 2012  

A plummeting Euro and tighter budgets on the home front could mean that our European neighbours win the hearts and minds of the UK holidaymakers in 2012. A survey by Post Office Travel Money suggests that this year, destination choice will be based purely on affordability rather than aspiration. And thanks to a strong pound and some seriously good Mediterranean deals, countries like Italy, Greece and Spain could see a rise in the number of British tourists heading for their sun-drenched shores.

Although the long-haul destinations like Sri Lanka may have the benefit of low resort costs, it’s the price of air travel that could dictate just how many people are willing to travel outside the Eurozone. However Government pledges to outlaw credit card surcharges so far seem to be falling on deaf ears with the low-cost airlines, and so many will think twice before traveling in Europe just because they don’t want to be ripped off.

Viva España…

Spain has moved back up the holiday destination league, making it a compelling choice for cash-strapped holidaymakers. Post Office Travel Money suggests that, thanks to the pound’s performance against the desperately sick Euro and the fact that resort prices in the Costa del Sol are now 40% lower than five years ago, bargain hunters looking for a cheap family holiday with guaranteed sunshine will be flocking to the Spanish coast.

The big question mark is Turkey. Last year it saw a surge in visitors, but after a poor 2011 and a surprising rise of almost 21% in local costs, this previously popular destination could see numbers slipping this year.

When is a credit card surcharge not really a credit card surcharge?

The big debate over surcharges has captured the attention of travel pundits, and the issue seems to be scaling up to a full scale war between the airlines and travel companies, and the Treasury – the outcome of which could determine the real winners and losers in the battle of the low-cost carriers. Easyjet, one of the UK’s most popular budget airlines, has decided to re-label its £8 booking fee for customers paying with credit cards to a flat £9 ‘administration’ fee, while Ryanair has remained defiant over its £6 one-way charge per passenger levied on flights.

There has been a great deal of controversy over how the airlines are side-stepping the new government guidelines on fairer charges, and it seems that rather than making real changes to the system, the airlines are choosing to ‘redefine’ the terminology they use and so dodging the issue altogether. Ryanair has a menu of 15 different types of fees, including fees for reserved seating and priority boarding, while Easyjet prefers to keep it simple (as is the airline’s wont) with the flat-rate £9 fee.

For customers looking for straightforward, no ‘hidden extras’ charges, it could be Easyjet that wins this particular round. It’s not just a matter of fairness, but also of transparency, and if UK travellers are going to be ditching the ‘staycation’ and heading back abroad this year, they want to know up front that they’re not being ripped off before they even leave the airport. Ryanair’s defiance could cost them dearly, as savvy consumers hunt around for the best deals that don’t include a credit card surcharge, whatever name it’s given.


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