Turkey has become extremely cheap for British holidaymakers visiting over the next few weeks, with the pound now buying nearly twice as much lira as this time last year.
The Turkish currency slid to record lows last week as the country suffered the effects of rampant inflation and concerns mounted over deteriorating relations with the US, meaning travellers could get nearly nine lira to the pound compared to 4.5 last August.
The currency has nosedived since January, losing a third of its value against the US dollar.
What does it mean for British travellers?
While the slump in the value of the lira does not mean the cost of package holidays will fall instantly, the favourable rate affords Britons extra local currency for every £1 exchanged. The pound is 89 per cent up on the lira compared to August last year and 37 per cent up compared to last month.
“While package holiday prices are unlikely to be directly affected this summer, holidaymakers will find that the cost of eating out, shopping and excursions are significantly lower,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor.
“Independent travellers who pay for their accommodation on arrival will also do well, and tour operators should be able to negotiate much more competitive deals on hotels and villas for next season.”
How bad is the currency slump?
As you can see from the graph above, the spike in the number of lira to the pound is quite severe. Five years ago, a pound was worth just three lira, and today it is nearly nine. Even last year, the pound was providing good value in Turkey, with 4.5 lira to £1. Compared to two years ago, the pound is up 128 per cent.
The lira, the worst performing currency in 2018, was in freefall early last week, slipping to 9.8 per cent down against the dollar, but rallied back to 6.5 per cent.
Turkey’s financial crisis has been brewing since the start of the year but deepened last week amid a row between Turkey and the US over the detention of an American Christian pastor. On Friday President Erdoğan urged his followers to to convert their dollars and gold into lira to rescue the currency while Donald Trump ramped up the pressure on Ankara by doubling tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium.
What does it mean for Turkey’s tourism industry?
Turkey’s tourism industry has had a difficult few years, with its visitor numbers peaking in 2014 at 41.2 million but then slumping to 25.3 million in 2016, after numerous terrorists attacks, an attempted coup and ongoing political stability.
A security drive – and a thaw in Russo-Turkish relations – led to a resurgent sector last year, with visitor numbers rising to 32.4 million. The fall in the value of the lira has also helped boost arrivals, with British travellers in particular drawn back to the country’s turquoise waters and sandy beaches.
Last week, Thomas Cook reported an 63 per cent increase in holiday bookings to Turkey this year, with Antalya overtaking Palma de Mallorca as its airline’s most-served airport for UK customers. Earlier this year, Thomas Cook said bookings to Turkey were up 84 per cent on 2017, behind only Spain and Greece.
TUI, similarly, said in July that Turkey was back on the British travel map, with only Spain and Greece ahead in terms of bookings.
Linda Cookson visited the Turquoise Coast, otherwise known as the Turkish Riviera to the south-west of the country, for Telegraph Travel…
“Like a boomerang, I landed back on the Turquoise Coast to revisit my favourite haunts. To my joy and relief, it was as though I’d never been away. Harbour-town Kalkan was as gorgeous as ever – awash with papery clouds of pink and purple bougainvillea, crammed with atmospheric cobbled streets overhung by Ottoman balconies, and twinkling at night with its cheery chain of sea-front restaurants buzzing with smiley waiters.”
“It was exactly the same in neighbouring Kaş. Late in my stay, as I sat in the town’s central tea gardens, shaded by eucalyptus trees, an elderly man I didn’t know came up to the table and pressed a blue ‘Evil Eye’ lucky charm into my hand. ‘It’s good to see you Brits back,’ he said shyly.”
Source: The Telegraph by Hugh Morris