Tourists get hidden costs warnings

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The Independent Online
A CHEAP holiday may prove a false bargain if you fail to take spending money into account, experts said yesterday.

A survey of prices at popular holiday destinations revealed staggering variations in the costs of expenses such as meals and car hire.

It showed, for example, that water skiing fanatics with a passion for pina coladas and writing postcards should consider Rhodes for this year's summer holiday. On the other hand, beer-guzzling sun worshippers with a caffeine addiction would be better suited to Portugal. The brew may not be better in the Algarve but it is certainly cheaper.

"Take into consideration the whole package," said Vicki Burwell, of Thomas Cook, which published the research yesterday. "If you think you have a last-minute bargain somewhere, unexpected prices can prove a nasty shock.

"These prices provide a guideline, it is obviously not an exact science but it might help people avoid running out of money on the last two days."

Destinations such as Florida, which is currently competing strongly with Europe, may turn out to be more expensive in the long term. A three-course meal can cost pounds 15.60, three times the average pounds 5.20 charged in Corfu. "The prices of Florida holidays have come down and are similar to the Mediterranean but other costs are a bit higher," Ms Burwell said.

Across Europe and North Africa, the difference in certain items was also quite considerable at times. A mile-long taxi trip in Tunisia will cost under pounds 1.90 while the same journey along the Costa del Sol could set you back almost pounds 12.30. Meanwhile, tourists are paying pounds 24.55 for a water skiing session in Tenerife, almost six times the charge in Rhodes.

Andrew Windsor, managing director of Thomas Cook, said: "If eating out every night is the highlight of someone's holiday then they may be swayed into choosing one of the destinations where food and wine cost less."

In Turkey, where a week's car hire can cost as much as pounds 263, the local bus is recommended. Malta may offer a bargain for seven days at pounds 87.85 though the island - at 122 square miles - hardly offers a motorist's paradise.

A strong pound and the devaluing of local currencies have played a key part in someprices. Travellers can expect to get 15 times more Turkish lirasi to the pound than five years ago - 631,713 to 43,000 in 1994.

Simon Phillips, head of European Retail Operations for Travelex, said that continental Europe was proving a bargain for holidaymakers this year thanks to our strong currency

"In Turkey you are getting 37 per cent more for your money while in France and Spain it is around 5 per cent. Yet customers still seem to be spending as much. Overall we are seeing a lot more travelling and a lot more spending, " he said.