Travel Afar for Best Value in 2009

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Holidaymakers looking for money-saving trips abroad could find light at the end of the tunnel as better exchange rates and lower living costs, together with a glut of flight and accommodation discounts, bring some of the most aspirational long haul destinations within reach, according to Post Office® Travel Services.

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A pre-paid Post Office® Travel Money Card will be a useful budgeting tool. Holidaymakers can also avoid unnecessary extra cost by buying commission-free currency in advance rather than paying more at the airport or at an overseas ATM.

The new Post Office® Holiday Costs Barometer of tourist staples in 15 long haul countries¹ reveals that costs are significantly lower for tourists in five leading destinations than in the eurozone.

Thailand heads the field as the cheapest destination - 41 per cent less than Spain, lowest priced in the eurozone, and under half the price for meals, drinks and other tourist items than Italy, its top-priced member². The Far Eastern favourite is around one quarter the cost for the same items in Barbados, the most popular Caribbean resort but also the highest priced in the Post Office® survey.

With the benefit of an aggressive new campaign by the Tourism Authority of Thailand³ to win back tourists after high profile sieges at its two main Bangkok airports, Andrew Spice, of Post Office® Travel Services, said:

"Despite its recent troubles, Thailand remains a great prospect for UK holidaymakers and their travel money. The Thai baht may have strengthened against sterling but prices remain very low in the country, as our new Holiday Costs Barometer shows, and the discounts now available to top resorts like Phuket and Hua Hin will make Thailand unbeatable value."

South Africa, where sterling is still stronger than a year ago, is another good option for holidaymakers - second only to Thailand in the Post Office® best value barometer. Another Far East destination, Malaysia, completes the top three in the Holiday Costs Barometer - and its low prices made its currency, the ringgit, the third fastest growing for the Post Office® in 2008.

Kenya could prove the surprise success of 2009. Fourth placed in the Post Office® barometer, the country is challenging hard to claw back its share of the holiday honey pot after post-election riots devastated tourism in 2008. Like Thailand, Kenya has, according to long haul specialist Hayes & Jarvis, slashed the cost of both hotel accommodation and flights. This, combined with its low cost of living, should make the country a strong contender in a year when holiday choice is likely to be driven by price and the foreign exchange.

Mid-haul destinations, led by Egypt and Dubai, also look set to be popular in 2009. In 2008 the Egyptian pound was one of the Post Office®'s fastest growing currencies4 and shorter flight times, keenly-priced packages and a widely-held belief that costs in the country are lower than elsewhere should continue to keep Egypt in the spotlight.

However Andrew Spice said: "While Egypt has consistently rated as one of the best value destinations in our surveys, we have seen signs that tourist items are on the rise. Meal costs, in particular, can be more expensive than in many other countries."

Over 1,600 Post Office® bureau de change branches offer a wide range of mid and long haul foreign currency on demand, including the Thai baht, South African rand and Egyptian pound. Other currencies featured in the long haul Holiday Costs Barometer can be pre-ordered for collection or home delivery at all 12,000 Post Office® outlets and online at postoffice.co.uk.

In a year when travellers are expected to budget hard, Andrew Spice suggested: "A pre-paid Post Office® Travel Money Card will be a useful budgeting tool. Holidaymakers can also avoid unnecessary extra cost by buying commission-free currency in advance rather than paying more at the airport or at an overseas ATM."

Ends

Note to Editors:

¹ Post Office® Long Haul Holiday Cost Barometer provides prices for eight items, using data supplied by tourist offices of participating countries or by individual research. Its brief calls for the lowest average resort prices for each item and the Post Office® is reliant on the accuracy of information received from tourist authorities.

² Post Office® Holiday Costs Barometer research for European destinations revealed that Spain was the lowest priced eurozone country with eight tourist items costing £67.89 - more than in non-euro Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia, while Italy was the most expensive at £83.96.

³ Source: Travelmole, 23 December 2008; full details at http://www.thailandsuperdeal.com

4 Post Office® Fastest Growing Currencies 2008 reveals that currencies for five long haul destinations (Malaysia, China, Japan, UAE and Egypt) feature in the top ten. Egypt is at number 10 with an annual sales growth of 17.3 per cent

Travel insurance is also available from Post Office®; single trip and annual multi trip travel insurance offering you comprehensive cover with a range of additional options.

For further information please contact:

CBPR                    
Christine Ball            
01798 874177
cball @ cballpr.co.uk

Post Office Ltd    
Hayley Fowell
020 7250 2417
Hayley.fowell @ postoffice.co.uk

Post Office Ltd. Registered in England and Wales no: 2154540. Registered Office: 80-86 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NN.
The Post Office and the Post Office symbol are registered trade marks of Post Office Ltd.

Post Office Ltd is an appointed representative of The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, which is authorised by the Irish Financial Regulator and the Financial Services Authority; regulated by the Financial Services Authority for the conduct of UK business. Bank of Ireland, incorporated in the Republic of Ireland with limited liability. Registered in England and Wales with branch number BR000459.

Card Account offered by J.P. Morgan Europe Ltd through Post Office Ltd. J.P. Morgan Europe Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England and Wales No. 938937. Registered Office: 125 London Wall, London, EC2Y 5AJ.

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