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05 Sep 2016

BY Jennifer Morris

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Latin America tops leader board for 'fastest-growing' currencies this summer

Latin America has topped the leader board for the “fastest-growing” currencies this summer, proving true the suggestion that long-haul holidays are the trend-of-the-moment for the UK market.

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Which countries proved most popular this summer?

Post Office Travel Money’s Fastest Growing Currencies report for the UK from June to August 2016 shows summer currency sales for the Costa Rican colon surged 84% year-on-year, followed by the Brazilian real, which grew 70%.

The latter was undoubtedly boosted by the Rio 2016 Games, as sports enthusiasts journeyed to Brazil to watch the Olympics. Real sales have risen 41% for 2016 to date.

Overall, four Latin American currencies are breaking Post Office records this year.

The winter sun forecast looks good for Peru – another destination boosted by new flights from the UK – and sales of the nuevo sol have risen a further 19% to build on last year’s 27% annual growth.

The Chilean peso meanwhile has risen 23% this summer.

Head of Post Office Travel Money Christopher Dewe said: “Costa Rica is the latest Latin American destination to come within the orbit of adventurous holidaymakers.

“With gains for Brazil, Chile and Peru as well, there is little doubt that growing numbers of UK tourists are prepared to travel long distances for their holiday.”

Figures for Gold Medal’s fastest growing destinations in 2016 also tell a similar story. Costa Rica topped that list, seeing an 8,207% increase in passengers year-on-year.

Gordon McCreadie, director of sales and marketing Gold Medal and Travel 2, said: “Our list is a useful reminder to agents that the majority of holidaymakers aren’t so easily swayed by media trends.

“The growth in interest for the poster child of eco-tourism and wildlife rich destination [Costa Rica] speaks volumes.

“While I suspect this rise has been stimulated by British Airways restarting their non-stop flights from Gatwick to San Jose in May this year, it also reflects the growing desire for a more adventurous style of travel; a trend which is having a far more significant impact on bookings across the industry.”

According to Post Office Travel Money Caribbean destinations also appear to have been popular this summer.

Sales of the Barbados dollar have risen 27% year-on-year, making it the fifth-fastest growing summer currency.

A 21% rise in sales of the East Caribbean dollar (7th place) suggests that Antigua and St Lucia have also done well with families.

Indeed Gold Medal’s list placed Jamaica in fourth place, showing a 245% upturn, followed by Antigua with a 99% lift and Cuba with a 71% increase.

Long-haul destinations generally continue to dominate the Post Office chart, occupying eight of the top 10 places.

The Omani rial is in third place showing 59% growth, the Indonesian rupiah fourth with a 57% rise and the Korean won is sixth up 23%.

Despite the setback of a weaker pound, the Post Office reports buoyant sales for the typically most popular currencies during June, July and August.

The euro remains the bestseller overall for the summer, followed by the US dollar (which showed the biggest increase) and the Canadian dollar.

A 17% year-on-year rise shows US travel is still perceived as good value, despite the fact that the pound buys 13% fewer dollars than it did a year ago.

In Europe, an 11% summer surge in sales helped the euro move into the Fastest Growing Currencies index for the first time, but only in 17th place.

Away from the eurozone Croatia saw a record-breaking summer as sales of the kuna rose for the sixth successive year, trebling since 2010. It has risen to fifth place in both the summer and the year-to-date bestselling top 10.

The Polish zloty (+18%, in 8th place) and Hungarian forint (+16%, 10th place) have taken the remaining two places in the “fastest-growing” chart however.

Dewe continued: “Looking ahead, we expect Eastern European cities with a great reputation for value to be popular this autumn.

“UK holidaymakers will be looking for the best possible return on their pounds and this will come through a combination of competitively-priced holiday packages and low costs in destinations.”

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