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Parents bow to pressure as kids rule the roost on family holidays

Press Release   •   Jul 23, 2013 23:00 BST

- European resort costs fall - according to Post Office® Family Holiday Report.
- Research shows kids have the upper hand: 1-in-5 parents let them pick destination while 45 per cent choose beach holidays to keep kids happy.
- Families budget to spend over £200 more abroad than on a UK holiday.
- But they still overspend their budget by more than 10 per cent.
- Prices cheapest in Bulgaria's Sunny Beach for third year running.

As schools break up for the summer, research for the Post Office Family Holiday Report ( has revealed that the pound could stretch further than expected for families travelling to Europe because resort prices have fallen by up to 19 per cent in top holiday hotspots in Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal and Greece1. However, that benefit could be wiped out as the report also found that many parents bow to pressure from their children, making holiday decisions that cost them dear.

1-in-5 parents (21 per cent) questioned about holiday decision-making for the report said they let their children choose where to holiday2. In order to keep kids happy, 45 per cent picked a beach resort, 51 per cent chose self-catering so they could cook food their children liked and 43 per cent admitted choosing a destination they would not otherwise have visited.

More than half (51 per cent) bought beach extras after giving in to pester power and 60 per cent spent money visiting water or theme parks. This could cost them almost £100 in Ayia Napa (Cyprus) – the most expensive of 11 water parks surveyed by the Post Office3.

The Post Office Travel Money report showed that putting children in the driving seat could add significantly to holiday costs. It found that families set an average budget of £669 to cover costs while overseas – over £200 more than those families taking a UK holiday (around £453) - but overspent this by an average of almost £72 – or almost 11 per cent4.

On an overseas holiday parents said they spent an average of around £47 on water park visits, £45 on kids’ items, £32 on ice creams and £24 on pedalo rides. Sightseeing (£104) and drinks (£103) could also rock the holiday boat but eating out put the biggest dent in the family budget (£213).

Family meals were the biggest single cost item in the Post Office Family Holiday Report barometer, which compared prices in 12 destinations including Bournemouth in the UK. Majorca was lowest-priced at just over £30 for a three-course meal including drinks – adding up to around £212 on a one week holiday. By contrast, a week’s meals in Bournemouth could set families back almost £536, over two-and-a-half times as much (£76 per meal), while the bill in Sorrento was three times higher at £749 (£107 per meal).

Meals were also cheap in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (around £38), helping to make this the cheapest resort for bargain-hunters for the third consecutive year. At just over £76 for the Post Office Travel Money barometer basket of 12 family items, which included drinks, ice-cream, beach items and suncream as well as a family meal, Sunny Beach was £100 cheaper than Sorrento, the most expensive resort surveyed at over £176.

The report brings more welcome news for families. Sterling may be worth over nine per cent less than a year ago against the euro but price cuts in resorts surveyed in Spain, Portugal and Greece as well as in Bulgaria have been big enough to counteract the weak pound and mean families will pay less than last year for typical holiday purchases.

Prices have fallen most sharply in Crete where families will pay almost 19 per cent less than in 2012 for the same 12 items. However, with a barometer total of almost £108, Crete was one of the more expensive destinations surveyed. Elsewhere, the four best value resorts have all seen price cuts since last year. Sunny Beach is 3.6 per cent cheaper while close runner up the Costa del Sol is showing falls of 15.3 per cent (around £78). In the Balearic Islands, families can expect to be almost 12 per cent better off in Majorca (£91) while prices are down 3.4 per cent in Portugal’s Algarve (around £96).

The biggest price rise was in Bournemouth, where the barometer basket was 12 per cent more expensive than last summer. Prices for UK holidaymakers also rose in Marmaris (+2.1 per cent), Ayia Napa (5.5 per cent), Sorrento (+5.7 per cent) and Corfu (+6.5 per cent). However, this was entirely as a result of the weaker pound because local prices were actually lower than in 2012 in all four resorts.

The Croatian resort of Porec (£142) and Nice (£163) were among the most expensive destinations surveyed but are included in the report for the first time and year-on-year comparisons are not therefore available.

Family Holiday Report Price Comparisons at a glance:

Children's drinks and ice creams cost less in the Algarve. A Coca-Cola and ice cream cost £2.50 compared with £6.69 in Nice.

Sunny Beach offers the best bargain for a bucket and spade at £2.35 - around half the price as in Bournemouth (£4.55). The Bulgarian resort is also a best buy for Aqua shoes (£2.35) but these will cost over three times as much in Sorrento (£7.14), Marmaris (£7.26) and Bournemouth (£7.50).

A mask and snorkel set are cheapest in Bournemouth at £4.49 - under half the price in Sorrento (£10.70) or Marmaris (£12.71).

Taking an hour's pedalo ride will set families back £17.84 in Ayia Napa or the Algarve but is only £6.14 in Porec, Croatia.

An inflatable lilo is available in the Algarve for £2.67 but costs over three times as much in Porec (£9.83) and more than four times that amount in Nice (£13.38).

Families who forgot to pack the suncream will find this costly in Corfu at £13.38 and Majorca (£12.36) but cheap in Costa Del Sol (£4.42) and Porec (£5.53).

Renting a sun lounger is an expensive luxury in Nice, where half day hire costs £13.38. It will cost a fraction of that in Marmaris (£1.82) or Sunny Beach (£1.88) but may be a cost families want to avoid in Sorrento (£10.70) and the Algarve (£8.92).

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Our latest report makes it clear there are still wide variations across Europe in the cost of holiday items that tip the family budget into the red. With the continuing volatility of sterling, it will pay dividends to consider these when deciding how much spending money to take. Families hoping to bag a last minute bargain should compare resort prices in our barometer before choosing their destination as these can have a big impact on the overall ‘package’ cost.

“The good news for families is that there is strong competition for business in many resorts – particularly between restaurants and bars – and this has resulted in lower prices in some holiday hotspots. However, pester power can soon empty the family purse so we recommend that holidaymakers set a budget for kids’ items and stick to it. Pack last year’s lilo, snorkelling gear and aqua shoes in the suitcase rather than waiting to buy them in resort and that could fund some pedalo rides or even a day out at a water park.”

Currencies for the Family Holiday Report destinations surveyed are among 25 available on demand at 1,600 larger Post Office branches, while over 4,000 branches offer Turkish lira and 10,000 offer euro over the counter. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery.

1 Prices for the Family Holiday Report were provided as typical costs in resort areas popular with UK holidaymakers by national and regional tourist boards, except Bulgaria (provided by Balkan Holidays) and the UK (researched independently). Pricing data relates to exchange rate on 19 July 2013.

2 Source: Omnibus research conducted for Post Office Travel Money by Populus (5-7 July) among 446 parents with children aged 18 or under who had been on holiday with their children in the last three years. Of these:

- 83& spent money on ice creams/lollies and drinks for their children
- 64% chose accommodation because of its onsite facilities for kids
- 60% spent money visiting theme or water parks to keep their children happy
- 51% bought beach extras (e.g. Lilo, bucket and spade) because the children asked for these
- 51% chose a self-catering holiday so they could prepare food they knew their children would eat
- 45% chose a beach holiday just to keep the kids happy
- 43% dined in fast-food restaurants so the children would eat
- 43% chose a holiday destination they would otherwise not have for the sake of their children
- 37% returned to the same place because the kids liked it rather than because they wanted to
- 35% paid for a water-based activity e.g. pedalo, kayak, banana boat
- 24% took one of their children’s friends on holiday to give them someone to play with
- 21% let their children choose the destination for their holiday

3Post Office Beach Holiday Barometer: water park prices for a family of four (two adults and two children)

DestinationWater ParkFamily One Day Entry
UK:BournemouthSplashdown Poole£45.40
Turkey: MarmarisAqualand, Antalya£46.47
Italy: SorrentoValle dell'Orso£53.52
Bulgaria: Sunny BeachAction Aquapark£53.66
Portugal: AlgarveAqualand£67.80
Greece: CreteAcqua Plus£71.36
Spain: Costa Del SolAqua Mijas£71.36
Greece: CorfuAqualand£74.93
Majorca: Palma NovaAqualand£79.39
France: NiceAquasplash Antibes£82.07
Cyrpus:Ayia NapaWaterWorld£98.13

4 Source: Omnibus research conducted for Post Office Travel Money by Populus (31 May-2 June) among 2,109 respondents. 200 of these were parents of children aged 18 or under who had been on an overseas holiday in the past three years with their children. These holidaymakers set a spending budget of £669.35 but their average spend amounted to £741.06:

ItemAverage Overseas Spend
Eating out£213.49
Water Park£47.47
Kids' Beach Items£44.68
Kids' Ice Cream£31.75
Pedalo Ride£23.99
Sports Activities£17.02
Coin-Op Games£15.89
Sun Lounger£12.40
Contact - Gabrielle O'Gara

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