Sri Lanka and Mexico best for long-haul value

British long-haul travellers will find that their pound will stretch furthest in Sri Lanka, Mexico and the Far East this winter, according to new research into holiday costs.

Australia and Hong Kong were the least cost-effective destinations featured in the survey, which also revealed significant rises in the price of food, drinks and supermarket goods in Thailand and South Africa.

The Post Office’s annual Long-Haul Holiday Report compares the cost of 10 essential holiday purchases like an evening meal, a cup of coffee and sun cream in 22 destinations.

In Sri Lanka, the 10 items cost just £46.85, compared with £155.48 in the Australian capital, Sydney.

Research released this week by the tour operator Hayes and Jarvis, who specialise in long-haul trips, also suggested that Sri Lanka is among the best-value destinations for a package holiday, with a one-week break in November costing £799 on average, bettered only by Egypt (£649) and the Dominican Republic (£729).

Sri Lanka has witnessed a sharp rise in visitors following the end to hostilities between government forces and Tamil separatists in the north and east of the island. Nearly 400,000 foreign tourists visited in the first eight months of 2010, an increase of 47 per cent on the previous year.

Thailand was the cheapest destination in the Post Office’s 2009 report, but now has fallen to sixth in the survey, thanks in part to the strength against the pound of the Thai baht, which is worth 11.6 per cent more than last year. The 10 items cost £52.85 in Phuket, up by 16 per cent on last year.

Mexico and Kenya finished second and third in the survey. UK sales of the Mexican peso and the Kenyan shilling have risen by 5 and 11 per cent, respectively, while the Kenyan Tourism Board has reported a 7 per cent rise in British visitors.

Malaysia and Indonesia finished fourth and fifth in the survey, with the 10 items costing British visitors £51.89 and £52.39.

Sean Tipton from Abta, emphasised the importance of prices on the ground, particularly with air travel becoming more expensive. The latest rises in Air Passenger Duty, due in November, will add up to £240 to the cost of long-haul flights from the UK for a family of four.

“Long-haul travel can initially look unattractive, with air fares costing more than travelling to Europe,” Mr Tipton said. “But many long-haul destinations are cheaper than the Mediterranean, with even a weak pound still going a very long way.”

Elsewhere, prices in Australia, Canada and Brazil have all risen sharply, and sterling’s recent weakness against the rand means that tourists visiting South Africa can expect to pay about 28 per cent more for food, drink and other holiday essentials this winter.

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* Premium £31.92 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single Trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for 15-days Worldwide cover excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (October 2010) and are subject to change.