PAPHOS has been named by the UK Post Office annual survey as one of the best value hotspots for holidaymakers in 2014.
The Post Office barometer shows that the coastal resort has climbed to sixth place on the chart, as a top value for money resort.
The results will come as good news for the industry, as Cyprus has long been viewed as an expensive tourist destination with value for money rarely coming top of the island’s attraction list, especially among Britons.
Paphos in particular had, during ‘the good times’ also gained a reputation for the rip-off mentality of some operators in the district’s tourism sector.
According to the Post Office however, Paphos has registered the biggest fall in prices – 21 per cent – from the 20 European resorts surveyed.
Although Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach is cheapest overall, overtaking the Costas and the Algarve, Paphos has seen a huge drop in the price of ten tourist staples or ‘basket of goods’ compared for each destination.
The ‘basket’ includes lunch and evening meals, drinks, sun cream, insect repellent and a daily newspaper, among other items. The total in Paphos came to £62 sterling (€75.30), taking it to sixth place in the table from tenth last year.
Head of the Paphos regional board of tourism, Nassos Hadjigeorgiou said: “We are pleased to see that Paphos is competitive compared to other hot spots in Europe. This ranking gives travellers additional reasons to choose Paphos for holidays.”
Hadjigeorgiou added: “It is a fact that prices have dropped here. Retailers have appraised the current climate and they are adapting to the new trend offering more competitive prices and further enhancing service quality. This is a positive result and what the client needs.”
Fytos Thrassyvoulou, head of the Cyprus Restaurants Federation noted that most eateries in Paphos had dropped prices in a bid to be more competitive. He owns two businesses in the seaside town.
“Restaurants are offering even more special offers this year as it’s so competitive and a hard market, especially as we are up against all inclusive holidays. We want to give value for money and ensure happy customers and it seems to be working.”
A cup of coffee in Paphos now costs £1.83 compared to £2.12 in France and Corfu but still a euro more expensive than Bulgaria, the Algarve and Majorca.
Paphos had the cheapest water from all destinations at 25 pence a bottle, and the cheapest insect repellent at £1.32. It wasn’t the most expensive in any category.
Marmaris in Turkey took second position to Bulgaria with a barometer total of £54. Although there has been a 13 per cent jump in local prices, the Turkish resort has moved five places up the top 10 as the price rises have been offset by a 31 per cent surge in the value of sterling. This has made Marmaris 14 per cent cheaper overall than in 2013. At another Turkish resort, Bodrum, the basket costs almost £96 – some 76 per cent more – for the same items.
Andrew Brown of Post Office travel money said: “The strength of sterling is great news for people planning holidays abroad. They can make sure their holiday cash stretches even further by doing their homework before booking to pick a destination where prices have fallen furthest. Resort prices can make or break the holiday budget so choose a destination where healthy competition between restaurants and bars has resulted in cheaper meals and drinks.”
The barometer is a practical way to gauge the real cost of a break in a particular resort and to compare how potential holiday destinations measure up against each other. Meanwhile, resort costs are over a third cheaper in the Costas and the Algarve than was registered in 2009.
Although the sterling pound is strong, which will make spending money stretch further for holidaymakers this year, the Post Office was quick to point out that there has been a real plunge in local prices in half the destinations surveyed. As a result, UK tourists could pay up to a fifth less than in 2013 in popular destinations.
Coming in at third on the barometer is the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca at £55. They remain best value in the eurozone.
The Post Office noted though, that mainland Spain remains the most popular destination for UK holidaymakers, as it offers consistent value for money and prices are over a third cheaper than they were five summers ago.
Brown said: “Our research found that the average resort spend is over £500 so it makes sense to take at least that amount with you to avoid running out of cash.”
Other resorts in Europe rated as good value are Crete, Istria and Corfu – all three appear in the top 10 destinations.
The most expensive baskets of goods were to be found in several Italian resorts totalling over £100 in each.