The ‘Kelkoo Beach Index’ released today, ranks 20 of the world’s most popular beach destinations based on the factors that matter most to British holidaymakers. According to the index, pound for pound, the Black Sea Coast in Bulgaria should be the number one beach holiday destination for UK travellers this summer, while Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Sydney (Australia) rank lowest. The index also predicts a more positive outlook for the travel sector in 2010, with UK travel expenditure forecast to reach £41.1bn or £669 per person, a modest £1bn increase (+2.4%) on 2009, when travel sales plummeted by £3.7bn (-8.4%).
The study, commissioned by Kelkoo, and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, rated the world’s most popular beach destinations using the latest official statistics to assess the performance of 10 key travel criteria, including: climate, security, local affordability of goods and services, quality of food, the cost of flights and accommodation, tourist attractions, and the exchange rate. A YouGov survey of almost 2,300 adults was conducted to ascertain the importance British holidaymakers placed on each factor, and the scores for each destination were then weighted accordingly to determine the ‘Kelkoo Beach Index’ rankings.
With enviable weather conditions, reasonably priced flights and accommodation, as well as favourable exchange rates, Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast emerges as the top beach destination this summer, closely followed by North Tunisia, Antalya in Turkey, and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. According to the index, these destinations rank highest in the affordability stakes, the number one holiday consideration for today’s travellers. This summer, almost 9 out of 10 people (87%) claim prices at destination constitute the most important criteria when picking their perfect holiday, 86% deem the cost of accommodation and flights (82%) to be key, while 81% believe security is also a determining factor . Scoring lowest are Sydney, Australia (20th), Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (19th), and Hawaii (18th), due to low overall affordability scores which force them down to the bottom of the table.
Bruce Fair, Managing Director of Kelkoo UK, comments: “In the current climate, British holidaymakers seem to be more cost-conscious than ever. Although Bulgaria, Tunisia and Turkey may not automatically spring to mind when choosing the top beach holiday destinations, they appear to fit the bill most closely when it comes to delivering against the criteria that matter most to UK holidaymakers today - value for money and affordability.”
Value for Money is King…
On an affordability scale of 1-100 (100 being the cheapest), including factors such as airfares, accommodation costs and prices at destination, the Black Sea Coast ranks first for value for money scoring 86 out of 100, followed by North Tunisia (79), and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt (75). British tourists can expect to find reasonably priced accommodation at these destinations with hotels costing on average 60%, 50%, and 20% less respectively than in the UK. Tourists can also pick up good deals on airfares, with return flights to Bulgaria or North Tunisia priced at £125 and £275 on average.
In stark contrast, Rio de Janeiro ranks as the most expensive beach destination, scoring just 26 out of 100, with return flights costing £760 on average, and accommodation generally 10% more expensive than in the UK. Sydney follows closely behind (27 out of 100), while the Maldives also scores low in this category (45). UK holidaymakers may also find that seeking a beach paradise on British soil isn’t as economical as they might think, with Cornwall coming in 14th place in the overall rankings due to the unpredictable British climate and its relatively high cost.
Bruce Fair continues: “Given the clear emphasis placed by consumers on the overall affordability of holidays and the cost of buying goods once they arrive at their destination, it is no surprise that a number of the holiday hotspots historically favoured by UK holidaymakers such as Cyprus (8th), Crete (9th) and Spain’s Balearic Islands (10th) are outranked by cheaper neighbouring non-Eurozone beach destinations. However, if the pound continues its rally against the euro, we should see these destinations climb back up the rankings and Britons returning to their more traditional holiday haunts.
“UK travellers now have around 16% more spending power in the Eurozone than they did only 18 months ago, with consumers now able to get around €1.20 as opposed to €1.02 for every pound they spend. For example, a hotel in Ibiza priced at £124 a night back in December 2008, would now cost just £106 - making the holiday budget go a good deal further!”
Sun, Sea, Security and Culture
After cost considerations, the most important holiday criteria for consumers are security (81%) and climate (78%), which rank 4th and 5th on their priority list; tourist attractions only take 7th place (65%) out of a possible 10.
The secluded Maldives is the most secure beach destination with 30 crimes committed on average per 1,000 people and the most police officers per capita (7.8 per 1,000); while Sydney fares worst with 106 crimes and just 2.1 police officers per 1,000 people. In terms of climate, Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt comes out on top, with hardly any rain, an average of 13 hours of sunshine per day and temperatures averaging 35°C. Cornwall ranks bottom of the list with average temperatures of just 19°C, seven hours of sunshine per day and 12 days of rain per month. For culture vultures, Lanarca in Cyprus comes top of the sightseeing spots with 3.8 heritage sites per 1 million people, and Dubrovnik in Croatia takes second place (1.6 sites per 1 million people). The Maldives, Goa and Bali fare worst in the cultural rankings.
UK Travel Outlook
The Kelkoo Travel Index also predicts a more positive outlook for the UK travel sector in 2010. Travel expenditure is expected to reach £41.1bn or £669 per person in 2010, a modest £1bn increase on 2009, when travel sales plummeted by -8.4% or £3.7bn since pre-recession 2008. Online travel bookings are also set to continue their recession-busting performance, having soared by 18.5% from 13bn to £15.6bn between 2008 and 2009, and to an estimated £17.6bn by the end of 2010 – a 13% rise on last year and equivalent to 42.8% of all UK travel expenditure.