With the summer break upon us here are ten facts to sprinkle into your holiday conversations.
- There is a common misconception that for a Brit making a card transaction overseas in sterling is cheaper than using the local currency. Martin Lewis of moneysavingexpert.com reports that, in fact, it is almost always better to make card transactions in the local currency. Even if the currency conversion provider waives its commission it usually uses an exchange rate with a significant mark-up over that offered by Visa/MasterCard for sterling transactions.
- Airport transfer website Hoppa’s provides a useful list of the world’s cheapest holiday destinations. Hoppa measures the cost of night’s stay in a hotel, a meal for two and a bottle of wine, a 3km taxi ride, a coffee, a cocktail and a beer across 84 cities. Sofia in Bulgaria comes out as the cheapest holiday spot at just £38.21 for this basket of goods and services, followed by Cairo (£39.09). Big falls in the value of the Bulgarian Lev and the Egyptian Pound have reduced costs for visitors to these countries.
- The cheapest place in the world to buy a McDonalds Big Mac is Ukraine according to The Economist’s Big Mac index. The index compares the US dollar price of Big Macs across countries in order to assess how under/overvalued the local currency is against the US dollar. We have converted these prices into British pounds. Last month British tourists in Ukraine could buy a Big Mac for £1.05 compared to an average UK price of £3.15 and a US price of £4.07.
- A global economic upturn and the depreciation of sterling has led to a surge of foreign visitors to the UK. Visitor numbers have risen 10% in the last two years and in 2016 more overseas visitors – some 37.3 million people – came to the UK than at any time since records began in 1961. The British Museum remains the most popular UK attraction for the tenth year running with 6.4 million visits in 2016. Following a £260m extension of the Tate Modern building by architects Herzog and de Meuron London’s modern art museum saw the biggest rise in visitors, up 24% from 2015 to 5.8 million.
- The UK is popular shopping destination for Chinese visitors. The average Chinese tourist spent £1,972 visiting the UK last year compared to an average spend by US tourist of £971. The discount luxury retail outlet in Bicester Village in Oxfordshire is the second most popular attraction after Buckingham Palace for Chinese visitors. Three out of every four Chinese tourists travel to Bicester while in the UK.
- The National Museum of China in Beijing is the most popular in the world, with 7.6m visits in 2016. It replaces the Louvre in Paris, which had bagged the top spot for four consecutive years. The National Air and Space Museum in Washington comes second with 7.5m visits.
- A study by business information provider Timetric shows that people from smaller and more affluent countries such as in Scandinavia are more likely to travel abroad than citizens of larger countries. The Norwegians are the world’s most well-travelled people making 2 international trips on average each year. The Finns come second with 1.7 trips on average each year. Swedes, Danes and Canadians make up the top five. Americans take an average of 0.2 foreign trips each year and the British 0.9.
- Austria, Greece and France give their employees the most generous statutory minimum level of holiday entitlement at 25 days according to a study by Mercer. However, Austrians enjoy the most generous entitlement when the additional 13 days of public holiday are included. By contrast, Filipinos are entitled to a statutory minimum of just 5 days in holidays. UK employees get a minimum of 20 days. US employees do not have a mandatory holiday entitlement but typically take around 15 days.
- Securing visas can be a time-consuming part of holiday planning, though less so for Germans. A study by citizenship consulting firm Henley & Partners shows that German passport holders can travel without a visa to 176 out of 218 possible travel destinations, the highest in the world. Sweden ranks second with 175 visa-free destinations. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and the US came third with 174 destinations. The UK ranked fourth with 173 visa-free destinations.
- France is the world’s most popular country for international tourist visits (84.5m individual visits during 2015), according to the latest World Tourism Organisation statistics. US, Spain, China and Italy are the next four most attractive destinations for international tourists.
PS - We have previously highlighted the rising number of young Americans who appear to given up on working or looking for work, effectively withdrawing from the jobs market. A report published last week by the Learning and Work Institute think tank suggested that something similar could be starting to happen in the UK. The report shows that the percentage of British 16-24-year-olds who were not in employment, education or training (NEETs) for a year or more has risen to 11.2% in the first quarter of this year, from 9.8% a year ago. This has happened even as unemployment has fallen and employment rates have risen to record levels.