The M&S Q1 2009 travel money report analyses data from sales at the national network of M&S in-store bureaux de change from January to March 2009.
Growing popularity of holiday resorts outside the eurozone continues
A recent survey by M&S Money revealed that more than a third of British travellers* (36%) take into account the strength of a country’s currency in relation to the pound when planning a holiday abroad. It’s not surprising, therefore, that holiday resorts outside the eurozone continue to increase in popularity as Brits look for the best value destinations.Egypt and Turkey - two of the most popular destinations in 2008 - are set to be firm favourites again this year. Sales of Egyptian pound and Turkish lira have increased by 20% and 46% respectively in Q1 compared to the same period in 2008.
M&S bureaux staff have also reported increased demand for the Kenyan shilling. The Kenyan government is keen to boost tourism in the country and recently announced that Visa rates would be cut to make the country more appealing to visitors. The Minister of Tourism for Kenya announced that entry visa rates are to be reduced by 50% and completely cut for children under 16 from April 1 until the end of 2010.
For travellers seeking a short-haul destination, Iceland is set to be a popular option this year. British travellers now get much more for their money when visiting Iceland - the strength of the krona against the pound has dropped by 65% compared to March 2008. Year-on-year sales of the krona have increased by 32%.
The long-haul destinations of South Africa and Mexico are also enjoying increased interest from UK holidaymakers.
James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: ‘The falling value of the pound in the past year means that holidaymakers are looking around for resorts where they are getting more for their money. Brits still want to enjoy a holiday, but they are being more selective about where they go.’
Middle Eastern countries show promise
Brits have been enjoying winter sun in various countries across the Middle East, with currencies used in the region seeing a large increase in year-on-year sales.
Dubai and the other UAE states have grown in popularity as a destination for Brits in recent years, whether on holiday, for business or visiting friends and family. The UAE dirham is now a top ten selling currency at M&S, with a 12% increase in Q1 compared to the first three months of 2008.
Other countries in the region which have seen large increases in sales of their currency include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: ‘The Middle East has become an increasingly popular winter destination for people eager to get away from the cold weather and soak up the sun. Destinations such as Dubai offer state-of-the-art hotels and world class facilities.
‘M&S bureaux staff can offer advice on currencies to holidaymakers, including whether there is a restriction on the amount of cash you take into a country. Travellers should also remember that many of these countries have far stricter laws and we advise checking with the Foreign Office to ensure you are aware of legal restrictions.’
Increase in foreign currency exchange continues at M&S bureaux
M&S Money is continuing to see a large increase in people exchanging foreign currencies for sterling, with a 21% year-on-year increase in the amount of foreign currency exchanged for sterling at M&S bureaux during Q1.
As the strength of currencies including the euro, US dollar and Japanese yen has grown against sterling in the past year, customers using the M&S commission-free ‘buy back’ service are now much better off when exchanging foreign currency. Customers are also exchanging large amounts of Australian dollars, Swiss francs and UAE dirhams.
Customers exchanging foreign currency at M&S bureaux fall into one of three categories:
1. Tourists visiting the UK: Staff at M&S bureaux in tourist hotspots including London and Oxford welcome large numbers of foreign visitors.
2. Travellers returning home: Many holidaymakers are taking more cash with them when travelling abroad to compensate for the weak pound. A recent survey* commissioned by M&S Money found that 29% of travellers opt to change spare foreign cash back to sterling as soon as they return to the UK. Any spare cash brought home can be exchanged at M&S.
3. Householders digging-out old currency: The weak pound means that leftover foreign notes are now worth exchanging back to sterling.
James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: ‘Throughout last year, as the strength of the pound fell against many currencies, we saw a steady increase in the amount of foreign currency exchanged for sterling in our bureaux. Tourists and British travellers returning home want to make the most of the relatively strong ‘buy back’ rates.’
Top 10 selling currencies Q1 2009
2 US dollar
3 Australian dollar
4 South African rand
5 Swiss franc
6 Canadian dollar
7 Egyptian pound
8 New Zealand dollar
9 UAE dirham
10 Thai baht
Top 10 ‘buy’ currencies Q1 2009 (customers exchanging currency for sterling at M&S bureaux)
2 US dollar
3 Japanese yen
4 Australian dollar
5 Swiss franc
6 UAE dirham
7 Canadian dollar
8 South African rand
9 Hong Kong dollar
10 Norwegian krone
Top 10 currencies with largest increase in year-on-year sales Q1 2009
1 Kenyan shilling
2 Saudi riyal
3 Kuwaiti dinar
4 South Korean won
5 Mexican peso
6 Turkish lira
7 Jamaican dollar
8 Philippine peso,br>
9 Iceland krona
10 Qatari riyal