The price is right

LOOK east for bargains as Greece and Turkey aim to lure hard-up Brits – but Spain is still cheapest, says Jeremy Gates.

Don’t worry about the budget squeeze, you can still afford a holiday! That’s the message to hard-up British families from hoteliers and restaurateurs in Greece and Turkey who are slashing prices to keep the tourists rolling in.

According to the latest analysis from Post Office Travel Money, the leading supplier of foreign currency to British travellers, local prices have plunged by more than 10 per cent since 2010 in both countries.

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Despite these swingeing price cuts, however, Spain is again the cheapest holiday spot in Europe – with prices at a four-year low and 36 per cent lower than in 2007 when Post Office Travel Money first created its Holiday Costs Barometer.

A basket of 10 essential items, including a meal out for two, drinks and suncream, now costs £42.15 on the Costa del Sol, followed by £44.79 in Bulgaria and £49.63 in Portugal, the cheapest in 2010.

By contrast, hotels and restaurants in France and Italy aren’t worried about keeping the Brits happy. Their prices are the steepest in the eurozone.

The best news for Britons in Europe this summer is the fall in prices in Greece.

After a disappointing 2010, Greece has followed the cost-cutting example set by Spain and Portugal a year ago. Bars and restaurants on the island resort of Corfu have slashed prices by 10 per cent, helping Greece edge closer to the top three value destinations.

At £58.87 for the barometer basket, Greece was 15 per cent cheaper than rival Turkey. However, prices fell further in Turkey (13 per cent) than in any of 14 destinations surveyed. The most significant factor was a 23 per cent price cut for evening meals in top Turkish resort Marmaris. A stronger UK pound, up 3.1 per cent year-on-year against the Turkish lira helped compound this benefit.

Elsewhere in Europe, sterling buys a similar amount of holiday cash as it did a year ago.

But UK tourists will see the pounds stretching further in the USA (up 6.3 per cent) and in mid-haul destinations like Dubai (up 7.3 per cent) and Egypt (up 13.7 per cent).

The Post Office’s Sarah Munro says: “This year’s barometer shows prices are pretty competitive in the top holiday destinations though sterling remains unpredictable.

“While Spain is undoubtedly best value overall, healthy price falls in Greece mean this traditional favourite is again a good bet for wallet-watching holidaymakers.

“The Eastern Med looks a good choice all round, as prices have fallen significantly in Turkey since 2010’s sharp rises.”