Croatia Chalks up Summer Sun Success but Mexico Lifts Crown for Holiday Growth says The Post Office

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As schools reopen after the summer holidays, the annual Fastest Growing Currencies report from Post Office Travel Money shows that Croatia has beaten off European rivals for the third year running in the race to attract UK tourists. Along with Iceland and Switzerland, the Balkan hotspot was one of only three short haul destinations to feature in the June-August 2011 growth top ten¹. Instead Mexico spearheaded a list of long haul summer successes that also included Barbados, Australia and Thailand.

·    Croatia is the only destination to feature in Post Office® Fastest Growing Currencies summer top ten for three years running

·    Mexico hits the holiday top spot with growth of 144 per cent

·    Thailand recovers from troubles but Egypt’s currency sales slump

With demand fuelled by low-cost all-inclusive deals and direct BA flights to Cancun, Mexico was the runaway winner in the Fastest Growing Currencies summer survey. Record growth of 144 per cent compared with a year ago took the Latin-American favourite into the Post Office’s top 20 bestselling currencies for the first time at number 19.

Closer to home, the Croatian kuna is the only currency to have featured in the annual Post Office Fastest Growing Currencies table for the past three years – this year moving up to fourth place. A 15 per cent sales increase for June-August 2011 compared with last summer – boosted by 36 per cent growth in August - is the latest evidence of a continuing three year growth trend.

As a result Croatia (no.7) has moved well ahead of Bulgaria (no.9) in the main bestsellers list², outperforming the Balkan rival rated best value destination in the Post Office Family Holiday Costs Barometer earlier this summer. Croatian kuna sales for June-August 2011 were 54 per cent higher than purchases of the Bulgarian lev.

Meanwhile sales at the UK’s largest provider of foreign currency suggest a minor recovery for the eurozone during the summer holidays. Post Office euro sales grew by two per cent compared with a year ago – accelerating to five per cent in August.

Sarah Munro, Post Office Head of Travel Money, said: “This summer we have seen the first signs that demand for holidays to the eurozone has stabilised and even grown, despite the continuing volatility of sterling. In fact the success of Croatia, whose currency has strengthened against sterling this year, suggests that exchange rates are not the main consideration for holidaymakers. Package prices and resort costs play an important part in decision making.”

Continuing a well-established three year trend, long haul destinations were the big winners this summer, taking seven of the top ten places in the Fastest Growing Currencies chart. After last year’s Latin-American surge led by Brazil, this year’s surprise success has been Argentina.

With a year-on-year sales increase of 120 per cent, the Argentinian peso was second only to Mexico in the growth table. Like Mexico, its success may have been stimulated by the introduction of a direct BA service to Buenos Aires earlier in 2011.

Following a dip in its fortunes after 2010’s riots, Thailand recovered from the downturn to register growth of 10 per cent in Post Office Thai baht sales this summer. This performance was boosted by a 25 per cent year on year increase in August, taking the currency to eighth place in the Post Office table. Another Post Office bestselling currency, the Egyptian pound, was adversely affected by political turbulence this year, suffering a 49 per cent slump in sales over the summer.

Meanwhile Barbados (no.4) was one of only two destinations to retain top ten places after a 15 per cent surge in summer sales of the Barbados dollar. Currencies for two of the world’s most aspirational resorts also put on significant increases - Australia (+12 per cent year-on-year) and New Zealand (+26 per cent year-on-year). In the case of the New Zealand dollar, September’s Rugby World Cup should result in a further acceleration in demand.

Sarah Munro said: “Once again the big winners in the drive to attract UK holidaymakers were destinations further afield. Encouragingly, the best growth levels were recorded in August, which could be a positive indicator of what lies ahead as the winter sun season gets underway.

“Winter packages to Holiday Costs Barometer best value destinations like Thailand and Mexico are still keenly priced. However, holidaymakers should avoid wasting their spending money by leaving it to the last minute and changing money at the airport and getting a poor rate. Instead they should buy their currency in advance or take a pre-paid currency card like the Post Office Travel Money Card Plus. They can also cut costs abroad by using a credit card like the Post Office card that offers 0 per cent commission on purchases overseas.”

For more information, please contact:

Hayley Fowell
Post Office Press Office
0207 250 2468 / 07725 446226
hayley(dot)fowell(at)royalmail(dot)com

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Hayley Fowell