South Africa regains top spot in Long Haul Holiday Report

Weaker rand and falling local prices help Cape Town overtake Tokyo to rate as the best value long haul holiday destination (

Far East looks a bargain this winter, taking five of the chart’s 10 best value places

Prices have dropped in over half of the long haul destinations surveyed a year ago

Biggest price falls recorded in Brazil (down 33%) and Mexico (down 18%)

Chicago is the highest entrant of seven new destinations, taking ninth place

South Africa has regained its position as the cheapest destination in Post Office Travel Money’s annual long haul holiday cost of living barometer. Local price falls and a weaker South African rand have combined to bring prices down 20 per cent since last autumn, making Cape Town the best value of 34 resorts and cities surveyed1 for the 11th annual Long Haul Holiday Report compiled by the UK’s leading foreign exchange provider.

The barometer basket of 10 tourist staples in Cape Town, including a meal for two and range of drinks, was researched by report partner, the long haul tailor-made holiday specialist Travelbag, and cross-checked with prices provided by tourist offices. At £51.48, the Cape Town cost was over 10 per cent lower than in last year’s top destination, Tokyo (£57.40), where prices have risen by 17 per cent.

  • Despite this year’s price rise, Tokyo is second cheapest in the 2018 survey and remains 45 per cent cheaper than five years ago when prices first began to fall in the city. By contrast, prices have fallen 17 per cent in another Far Eastern destination, Bali (£63.95), which has moved up from sixth to third place, just ahead of Mombasa, Kenya (£67.11). Bali has been boosted by a strong sterling exchange rate and a drop in local costs after last year’s steep meal price rises.
  • Japan and Bali are among five Far Eastern destinations to feature in the 2018 best value top 10 – indicating that the region will be a bargain choice for UK visitors this winter. The others are Hoi An, Vietnam (prices down two per cent to £75.52, 5th) Penang, Malaysia (prices up one per cent to £82.69, 8th) and Phuket, Thailand (prices up 10 per cent to £97.63, 10th).

Cape Town including Angama Safari and Bali are not the only destinations to register price falls. Costs are down in 14 long haul destinations – over half of those also surveyed last year2. The biggest fall has been in Rio, Brazil, which has recovered from the inflated prices seen during and after the Olympic Games. They have plunged 33 per cent since last year to £107.90 because the Brazilian real has crashed in value, moving Rio up to 12th place in the table from 30th last year.

Cancun (£78.98) returns to the top 10 in sixth place after a drop in the value of the peso and

lower resort costs have not only made Mexico’s leading resort 18 per cent cheaper than a year ago but best value overall in the Americas. Other destinations where the Post Office found that percentage price falls are in double digits include Singapore (down 15 per cent to £129.51, 26th), Auckland, New Zealand (down 12 per cent to £115.85, 22nd) and Darwin, Australia (down 11 per cent to £124.01, 24th).

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK foreign exchange transactions, said: After a summer when sterling gave holidaymakers less cash to spend in Europe, winter sun tourists will see their pounds stretch further in many of the most popular long haul destinations. However, we advise them to consider the whole picture and not just the package price before booking.”

Seven new destinations feature in the Long Haul Holiday Report for the first time: India (Delhi), the Seychelles (Mahé) Abu Dhabi and four USA cities – Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Chicago (£91.46) was highest placed of these in ninth place – a result that reveals an affordable face for a city generally perceived to be more expensive.

However, Orlando is still the cheapest US destination at £81.62 for the barometer basket and has risen to seventh, its highest ever position. Prices in the world’s theme park capital are up marginally on 2017 (+0.8 per cent) but this is simply because the US dollar is also 0.8 per cent stronger against sterling than last September. Elsewhere, New York (£112.55, 17th) has narrowly beaten San Francisco (£114.10, 21st) on price, while Las Vegas (£150.56, 29th) is seven per cent cheaper than Los Angeles (£161.93, 30th).

  • The recent dollar surge has also impacted the Caribbean Islands whose currencies are pegged to the US dollar. Jamaica (Montego Bay, £111.09, 16th) is cheapest of five islands surveyed and, although prices are up three per cent on last year’s levels, they are 22 per cent cheaper than in 2016. The same applies to St Lucia (Rodney Bay, £113.45, 19th), which is eight per cent pricier than last year but 19 per cent cheaper than in 2016. Barbados (St. James, £163.00, 31st) remains most expensive in the Caribbean with prices up 21 per cent year-on-year.
  • India (Delhi, £108.29, 13th) has emerged as cheapest in the Indian Ocean but another new destination, the Seychelles (Mahé), is most expensive in the survey at £192.47. Its barometer basket cost 70 per cent more than Mauritius (down one per cent to £113.15) in 18th place.
  • In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi (£166.54, 33rd) is slightly more expensive than Dubai (£164.74, 32nd). Visitors to Dubai can avoid the high cost of eating out by booking one of the many competitively-priced All Inclusive packages available. For example, Travelbag is currently offering a three-night All Inclusive holiday from £619pp.

Andrew Brown said: “By doing their homework to see where the pound is worth more and where resort costs are low, holidaymakers could save themselves a lot of money. They can check resort prices at then change sufficient travel cash to cover the cost of meals, drinks and other tourist staples. By changing more than £500, holidaymakers can get a better exchange rate at Post Office bureaux and on our website – and avoid the poor rate they would get by changing money at the airport.”

The latest intelligence from Travelbag supports the idea that holidaymakers are taking note of exchange rate movements and resort costs before choosing a destination.

Oliver Lomas – Head of Product & Commercial, Travelbag said: “Value for money and ensuring that their pound goes further is a key consideration for our customers. This isdemonstrated by a significant increase in bookings to the likes of Bali, Thailand and Mexico where exchange rates and in-destination costs are favourable, and of course, in South Africa, where the Pound-to-South African Rand continues to offer British travellers incredible value.

“The USA remains particularly strong with Chicago bookings up 149 per cent this year so far, compared to the 2017 total. Additionally, Orlando continues to appeal to the family market with January – June 2018 already exceeding all bookings for the previous year. The UAE, and Dubai specifically, is also proving to be of great value, thanks to the destination’s incredible all-inclusive holiday package offering, with bookings up 61 per cent in the past three years alone.”

Travelbag is currently offering flight-inclusive packages to Orlando for seven nights from £419pp, Thailand (Phuket) for an eight-night getaway from £599pp and a 15-night South Africa Tour from £2,629pp.