Britons in search of value for money this winter would do well to visit South Africa, with new research pinpointing Cape Town as the cheapest popular long-haul holiday destination.
The recent fall in the value of the rand helped the city claim top spot in the Post Office’s annual Long Haul Holiday Report, which compared average prices for food, drinks and other common purchases in 34 destinations.
Cape Town pipped Tokyo, with a basket of 10 items costing the equivalent of £51.48, on average. Bali, Mombasa (Kenya) and Hoi An (Vietnam), completed the top five.
The methodology isn’t perfect - savvy travellers can still devise a budget break in the costlier destinations, while hotel and flight prices are not included - but the report offers a reasonable snapshot of typical costs on the ground.
South Africa has seen the value of its currency sink to a two-year low, meaning British holidaymakers can now get around 18 or 19 rand to the pound, up from 15 last winter. The head of South African tourism in the UK recently said now is the “perfect time for British travellers to visit”. According to the Post Office’s research, a three-course evening meal for two in Cape Town, with a bottle of house wine, typically costs just £30.
Tokyo has seen costs rise 17 per cent since last year, when it was the cheapest destination to feature, but it remains second in the rankings.
At the other end of the table was Mahe (Seychelles), where the same 10 items will set you back £192.47, on average, and where an evening meal for two costs £126.84. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Barbados and Los Angeles complete the bottom five.
Andrew Brown of the Post Office said winter sun-seekers will find more value for their money than European holidaymakers did this summer.
“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,” he said.
The Post Office found that prices had dropped in 14 of the 34 resorts surveyed, with Rio de Janeiro (down 33 per cent), Cape Town (20 per cent) and Cancun (18 per cent) experiencing the largest falls.
Which really is the cheapest long-haul destination?
The Post Office’s study clearly isn’t perfect. Delhi, for example, appears 13th in the rankings, with a three-course evening meal reportedly costing £80.42. That will come as a surprise to the thousands of budget backpackers who visit and subsist on all-you-can-eat thalis for a few quid a go.
“The table is compiled from a combination of data supplied by the long-haul specialist Travelbag and national or regional tourist offices of participating countries,” says the Post Office. “Resorts featured are chosen as representative of the prices UK holidaymakers will generally find in the destination. Random online checks were made to authenticate these prices.” The researchers must have been checking menus in Delhi’s swankier establishments.
Indeed, according to Numbeo’s cost of living survey, which takes into account the price of around 50 items, including a wide variety of accommodation, food and drink from both supermarkets and restaurants, clothing, taxi fares, leisure activities, utility, internet and mobile phone bills, India is the cheapest country on the planet. Moldova, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Nepal follow. Should none of those appeal, a little further down the list you will find Colombia, Serbia, The Philippines, South Africa and Romania.
The biennial World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, meanwhile, ranks countries according to “price competitiveness”. Iran is the number one option for budget tourists, it says, followed by Egypt, Malaysia, Algeria, Indonesia and Bhutan. India appears at number 10; Thailand at 18; Sri Lanka at 20.