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Thousands of British holidaymakers are cashing in on the huge swings in the value of the Euro to reduce the cost of their holiday spending by up to 11%.

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Operators of Prepaid travel money cards are reporting a surge in sales of travel money cards in 2015 with holidaymakers loading up with Euros when exchange rates are most favourable, often many months ahead of travelling.

Research also shows that more of us intend to head abroad this year to take advantage of cheap Euros. A survey by UKash, a leading currency exchange service, has found that 15% of UK families plan to book getaways to cash in on good exchange rates.

Over the last 6 months rates have swung from a low of 1.247 Euros to the pound to a high of 1.416. This means that a family buying €1,000 to cover holiday expenses would save over £95 by picking the best week to buy, 11% of the cost of their currency.

During the first few months of 2015, when rates have been particularly favourable, operators such as the International Currency Exchange have reported a 91% year-on-year increase in cards issued versus the same time last year, with customers loading Euros on to prepaid travel cards.

Alastair Graham, PIF spokesperson, comments: “With such large savings available it is understandable that travellers are using prepaid cards as a secure way to lock in good currency rates, bagging themselves a bargain and much cheaper holiday as a result.

“The best deals available come with no fees attached and offer the same competitive rates as you would find at the best high street outlets, so all the benefits of the strong pound are being passed on to customers.

“These cards are also becoming popular as they offer greater security than carrying cash and also, by fixing rates at a time that suits them, allow travellers to more easily budget for their holiday expenses.”

Spain’s airport authority has said it will start providing free and unlimited Wi-Fi in 46 airports across the country by the end of the year.

Airport authority AENA said its board has approved a plan that envisions making Spanish airports among Europe’s best for fast and free Wi-Fi service for passengers.

Free Wi-Fi is currently available in most Spanish airports but there is a 30-minute usage limit.

AENA said in a statement that faster speeds will be offered, plus a premium service for passengers willing to pay for it.

The authority said it expects the new free Wi-Fi system will be available at airports towards the end of this year.

The UN’s World Tourism Organisation says Spain is the No 3 international tourism destination after France and the United States.

With the Spanish property market beginning to look healthy once more (home buyers spent 23% more in 2014 on Spanish property than they did in 2013, according to the Ministry of Development), buyers are becoming more choosy about what they buy and where.

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Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of leading Spanish homebuilder Taylor Wimpey España, explains,

“There has been a rush of buyers, particularly from overseas, looking to pick up bargain properties in Spain while prices are low and the exchange rate is favourable. What we’re seeing now is purchasers honing their requests and seeking out properties that particularly suit their needs – while still enjoying bargain prices.”

Eef Meijer and Lydia Kosijungan are a great example. They purchased an off-plan apartment with Taylor Wimpey España at Los Arqueros Beach, San Pedro de Alcantara, a few kilometers from Marbella. The couple wanted a number of modifications to their holiday home, including a larger living room, a bathroom combined in an open plan format with the bedroom, changes to the kitchen and larger doors.

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Eef and Lydia’s changes were easily incorporated into their apartment and the couple were delighted with the results, which were just as they had hoped. They are now enjoying their second home for frequent holidays, while planning their retirement move from their native Netherlands to the Costa del Sol.

At the stunning Camp de Mar Beach at Puerto Andratx, Taylor Wimpey España is able to offer second home buyers a wide range of customisation options for townhouses in Mallorca. The resort enjoys direct beach access in an area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as some of the best golfing facilities on the island. The two and three bedroom properties will enjoy spacious terraces, lush communal gardens and a generously sized swimming pool.

Properties at Camp de Mar Beach come with air conditioning, double glazing, security doors and designer fixtures and fittings as standard. Prices start at €359,500. As to the modifications, it’s really up to the buyer, as Marc Pritchard states,

“We are open to suggestions! From minor layout changes to more substantial alterations, everything can be considered. It is part of the beauty of buying off-plan – purchasers can shape their apartments to perfectly suit their needs and desires.”

The latest Economic Information White Papers from Funcas (the Spanish Savings Banks Foundation) has highlighted the role of developments such as Camp de Mar Beach in driving forward the Spanish economy over the years ahead. The “budding recovery” of Spain’s construction sector is expected to lead to property price rises from this year forward.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rajoy is confident that the overall economy will see growth of more than 2.4% during 2015. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos is even more confident, projecting growth of between 2.5% and 3% over the course of the year. Employment is set to grow by 2.7%, according to the Bank of Spain.

Naturally, Spain’s economy and its property market are intrinsically linked and it is encouraging to see both of these elements reporting positive news. The National Statistics Institute (INE) reported a rise of 1.8% in the housing price index for Q4 2014 compared to a year earlier. The figure is the sharpest rise since Q1 2008 and the Q1 2015 data is eagerly awaited, to see how well the figures support the positive predictions pouring out of Spain right now.

For more information, please contact Taylor Wimpey España today on 08000 121 020 or visit www.taylorwimpeyspain.com. Those residing outside of the UK should call 0034 971 70 69 72.

The World Economic Forum published the biennial rankings on Wednesday, saying that Spain’s move to the top position was “a positive sign for the country’s nascent recovery”.

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“With beautiful heritage sites throughout the country, it boasts top marks for its cultural resources, and also scores highly for business travelers with a significant number of international conferences,” the report said.

The country was rated first globally for cultural resources, fourth for supporting tourists’ online searches for entertainment and fourth for infrastructure.

Spain jumped to first place this year up from fourth place in the last ranking in 2013, and up from eighth place in 2011.

Still, the report indicated that Spain had some “room for improvement”.

“The low rank for business environment (100th) reflects red tape related to construction permits and an inefficient legal framework, while the labour market is still assessed as somewhat rigid (113th) and sees a mismatch between workers’ rewards and productivity (125th),” the report explained.

Earlier this year, Spain broke two records for the number of international tourists in January and February reaching 6.5 million and for tourist spending reaching €6.6 billion.

In Wednesday’s tourism ranking, Spain beat out Switzerland, which took first place in 2013 and sank to sixth place this year.

France took second place after Spain, followed by Germany in third place, the United States in fourth and the United Kingdom in fifth.

The World Economic Forum rated 141 countries across 14 criteria to determine how well each place provided economic and societal benefits in the travel and tourism sector.

The new and growing middle class in countries like China are having more of an impact on tourism in Spain and across the world, the report said, as well as Western seniors and the Millennial generation.

Spain also saw a surge in tourists from Mexico and Brazil.

These two countries had their own successes in tourism, making it into the top 30.

“The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector,” said Roberto Crotti, economist at the World Economic Forum, in a statement.

“But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT [information and communications technology] readiness. This in turn would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs.”

Belfast City Airport has announced the arrival of a new budget airline and flights to Spain. Vueling Airlines, one of Europe’s fastest growing airlines which is owned by Willie Walsh’s International Airlines Group (IAG), will operate a twice weekly service to Barcelona.

Leading Spanish airline arrives at Belfast City Airport 2

The Spanish airline will operate a twice weekly service on Thursdays and Sundays to Barcelona’s El Prat airport. This will increase to three times weekly from 23 June with a Tuesday service.

Belfast City Airport is one of just a few UK airports to be included within the Spanish airline’s ambitious growth strategy announced in late 2014.

Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director at Belfast City Airport, said:“The arrival of Vueling to Northern Ireland is hugely exciting and significant given the airline’s fast paced growth and popularity in mainland Europe.

“As a low cost yet full service airline, Vueling places customer service at the centre of its operations and strategically selects airport partners which do the same.”

Vueling carries a high percentage of business passengers.

And the airline’s arrival comes following the announcement that Routes Europe 2017 is to be hosted in Belfast.

Fares start at £46.99 (one way including taxes) and can be booked at www.vueling.com/en