Monday, 9 September 2013 9:37 AM
Vietnam has emerged as the summer’s biggest success story for the second consecutive year, according to Post Office Travel Money’s Fastest Growing Currencies report for June-August.
The annual review of summer bestsellers by the UK’s biggest foreign currency provider reveals year-on-year growth of 106 per cent in Vietnamese dong sales and indicates that demand for Vietnam holidays, driven last year by the introduction of direct flights and more recently by the opening of a clutch of luxury beach resorts, shows no sign of slowing.
Australia was not far behind Vietnam. After successive years when the Australian dollar surged against sterling, holidaymakers have benefited from a stronger pound – currently worth 12.8 per cent more than 12 months ago. While the 98 per cent dollar sales growth can, in part, be attributed to Lions rugby supporters, continuing strong demand since the tour ended suggests that UK tourists are responding to the improving value of the pound.
Judging by the 86 per cent rise in dollar sales compared with June-August a year ago, neighbouring New Zealand has recovered from the doldrums it suffered in 2012. The pound may have strengthened marginally year-on-year (+1.1 per cent) but the real growth driver is more likely to have been the boost given by The Hobbit film, echoing the trend seen a decade ago when The Lord of the Rings, also made in New Zealand, helped fuel tourism.
Fastest growing currencies
Auguring well for the winter sun season ahead, long haul destinations continue to dominate the Post Office Fastest Growing Currencies summer chart as they have done for the past five years – taking nine of the top ten places.
Notable successes include the Dominican Republic peso oro (+76 per cent), Malaysian ringgit (+44 per cent), Japanese yen (+40 per cent) and Kenyan shilling (+40 per cent), all benefiting from the impact of a stronger pound.
In sixth place, South Africa has seen a welcome return to form for the first time since it staged the Football World Cup in 2010. South African rand sales rose 67 per cent year-on-year this summer in tandem with a 20 per cent fall in the currency’s value against sterling.
Meanwhile Dubai seems to have been the major beneficiary of an understandable fall-off in demand for trips to Egypt. Post Office sales of the UAE dirham leapt 48 per cent between June and August compared with 12 months ago, taking the currency to eighth place in the table of Fastest Growing Currencies – its highest ever position.
‘Strong euro performance’ in Europe
In Europe a strong euro performance resulted in a six per cent summer surge in sales of the Post Office’s bestselling currency. However, the Russian ruble was the only European currency to feature in the Fastest Growing Currencies top 10. A sales increase of 75 cent year-on-year helped the currency move up to fifth position from last year’s seventh place.
Although 2013 marks the first time in four years that Croatia has failed to appear in the Fastest Growing Currencies top 10, a healthy year-on-year increase of 35 per cent means that summer sales of the Croatian kuna were 147 per cent higher than those for Balkan rival, the Bulgarian lev. As a result Croatia was the Post Office’s sixth bestselling currency for summer 2013 and has retained its seventh position in the overall 2013 bestsellers list2.
Turkey suffered another disappointing year and was the only Post Office bestseller to register a sizeable fall in demand, both for 2013 to date and for the summer. Ironically this news comes as the Turkish lira fell to a five year low against sterling – offering UK tourists who can travel there during September over eight per cent more lira for their pounds.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, said: “Destinations further afield again proved the big winners in the drive to attract UK holidaymakers during the summer – and some of the most successful of these were countries like South Africa, Australia, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica where sterling has strengthened significantly in value.
“Almost half of our top 40 currencies are weaker than a year ago against sterling and most of these are for long haul destinations. Although this bodes well for people considering winter sun holidays, we advise them to check the Holiday Costs Barometer price comparisons on our website before booking to find out where they can get the best value.
“They should also avoid wasting cash by changing money for a low exchange rate when they get to the airport. Instead they should buy currency before leaving home or load it onto a pre-paid card like the Post Office Travel Money Card.”
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