A study by international flight comparison site Skyscanner has shown there is a huge misconception between the perceived cost of holiday destinations and the actual costs.
The study of 30 popular holiday destinations revealed that India was perceived to be the cheapest country, however in reality the former British colony is only ranked in sixth place, proving more expensive than many popular tourist destinations including Morocco, Thailand and Portugal.
While the study revealed the Dominican Republic to be the cheapest country, in reality once the cost of flights are factored in a very different story is revealed; the Dominican Republic slips to sixth position (although is the only long haul destination in the top 10), while Poland takes the coveted top spot, closely followed by Spain.
Cheaper than perceived: Sweden, Japan, Iceland and Ireland
Though Sweden was fairly accurately perceived to be the most expensive (it actually came fourth) other nations such as Japan – predicted as fifth most expensive but actually only 14th - proved that tourists are not always aware of the true cost of a destination before they arrive.
Holidaymakers were unaware of the bang for their buck that they could get in Iceland, which was ranked as the fourth most expensive destination but in fact was revealed to be ninth cheapest.
The cost of holidaying in Ireland was also overestimated – believed to be one of the most expensive destinations (position 23) it was in fact the 10th cheapest.
More expensive than perceived: Brazil, USA, Croatia and Egypt
Brazil is a prime example of misconceptions – the exotic South American nation was the second most expensive in the study but was thought to be far cheaper, falling just outside the top 10 cheapest destinations at number 11.
Other popular holiday destinations underestimated in cost terms by the public were USA, perceived as 10th cheapest but actually 21st, and Croatia, thought to be the eighth best value but in fact much lower in 19th place.
Possibly due to the continuing media spotlight on Egypt and its cut-price travel deals, Egypt also showed a major disparity; perceived to be the fifth cheapest destination it was revealed it to be far more expensive, ranking in position 12.
The flight effect
Not surprisingly, when the cost of flights is factored in, the bottom ten positions are all occupied by long haul flights. Australia, Brazil and South Africa occupy the top three spots in the overall cost ranking, while the impact of the price of long haul flights can have on total cost is best illustrated by New Zealand which jumps from 13th cheapest to fourth most expensive destination. This reinforces the fact that that those on a budget should balance the cost of a long haul flight with a destination which is cheaper when they’re actually there.
Other countries benefit from the flight routes offered by budget carriers; Italy for instance goes from the 11th most expensive destination to become the 12th cheapest once the cost of flights is added to the total price. Likewise Sweden rises 12 places from 27th position to 15th.
How the UK performs
The study also shows that many holidaymakers are not aware of the prices in their own “back yard”.
The UK was perceived as the seventh most expensive destination in the study but a holiday in Brighton was actually found to be just outside the top ten cheapest destinations, in position 11.
Even considering that some staycationers may opt to fly, and therefore factoring in the cost of flight prices from Glasgow to London, the UK becomes the eighth cheapest country in the study.
Skyscanner’s Sam Poullain said: “This study goes to show that it is hugely important for tourists on a budget to research all the various costs of holidaying abroad before deciding on a destination, rather than relying on their instinct for costs. Most importantly, consider the price of the flight as it can have a real impact on the overall cost.
“Those looking for real value should head to Poland. A fantastic all year round destination, winter sports are on offer in the Tatra Mountains while beautiful beaches can be found in the northern area near Gdansk, not to mention the great city break destinations of Poznan and Krakow. Add to that the choice of cheap flights and it really is the perfect destination!”