Ever since the recession started nearly four years ago tour operators in the UK, Germany and other European countries have tried to combat the recession by offering new areas that are cheaper than traditional favorites like Menorca, and there has been a significant number of tourists happy to try out the new offerings.
British holidaymakers, in particular, have found the new destinations tempting as they are outside of the Eurozone, and with their currency struggling against the Euro but still buying good amounts of other currencies, even in times of recession it has still allowed an overseas holiday for many when there might not have been during the economic downturn.
But as recent events in Egypt and Tunisia – two of the four big new locations – have unfolded, it could be that many families will switch back to their Menorca holidays as safety and security become just as much a priority as overall price.
The other two destinations heavily promoted by the tour operators are Morocco and Turkey, with Turkey having the largest share of tourism of the four. While Morocco has an elected government, the King has a lot of power and the country administers the disputed Western Sahara area. Turkey has borders with both Iran and Iraq and their occupation of Northern Cyprus breaks international law – and while things are quiet internationally for the country at the moment it is having difficulty being accepted into the EU and can hardly be described as one of the safest countries in the world politically.
It’s unlikely that many people will view Turkey in the same way as they will Egypt and Tunisia while booking their holidays this year, but the hotels in Menorca could well receive a boost as people take more than just price into consideration.
The tour operators themselves are already predicting a shift away from the more politically volatile holiday destinations back to islands like Menorca – the Press Association for example report that Thomson Holidays owner TUI Travel has warned that the political unrest in Egypt and Tunisia could hit earnings by up to 30 million.
Their main competitor Thomas Cook sells 900,000 holidays to Egypt a year and 600,000 to Tunisia according to some travel analysts and holidays to the two countries make up an estimated 8% of the company’s sales. Unlike some companies who have jumped on the new low-cost destinations bandwagon in recent years, Thomas Cook at least have a history of travel to Egypt, with the first one organized 140 years ago!
Over the last few years some tour operators have been buying up hotel space in potentially volatile areas to satisfy the consumer demand for cheap holidays, but if they need to scramble aircraft to bring their clients home early, give them a full or partial refund, and re-organise holidays elsewhere for bookings already taken, they might think twice if short term profit turns into longer term losses, and good deals for traditionally popular areas within the Eurozone could soon be back in fashion.
If you haven’t visited before, and are considering a holiday on the island, is it expensive compared to Egypt or Turkey, and is easy to get to?
On price Menorca comes out well. Thomson Holidays for example are offering a seven day trip in mid July for two adults and two children in a self catering apartment, with return flights from London Gatwick from 900 when booked online. At just over 200 a person it compares well with other destinations, and at the same accommodation half board is available at 100 a person more, or for full board making it all inclusive 120 a person more.
For those with a bigger budget and looking for a good villa, there are some available in Cala en Porter at good rates, some of them working out at around 200 a person including flights.
For those with one eye on their budget, Menorca can match any of the cheap destinations but be a safer option for this summer’s vacation.