The resurgence of the Australian Dollar gives Aussie travellers a great reason to head overseas

On June 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Annual Expedia Foreign Exchange Index reveals the Top Ten destinations where the Australian Dollar goes furthest

Leading online travel company Expedia.com.auTM, in conjunction with foreign exchange specialist HiFX, have produced the third annual Expedia® Foreign Exchange Index, which reveals the top ten destinations where Australians’ travel money will go further than a year ago, with areas of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe making up the majority of the list in 2009. 

The global financial crisis (GFC) has placed sustained pressure on the value of a number of currencies around the world, allowing the Australian Dollar to recently gain significant ground in various destinations. Iceland topped the Expedia Foreign Exchange Index this year with the Icelandic Krona, significantly impacted by the GFC, down 42 per cent against the Australian Dollar.

Other Scandinavian countries that have long been considered too expensive for many Australians have also made the list this year; in sixth place, the Swedish Krona is down ten per cent and the Norwegian Krone is more than six per cent weaker, coming in at tenth place.

Eastern Europe is offering the largest number of destinations where the Australian Dollar has gained significant ground, taking out four of the top ten places. They include Poland (second place), where the Zloty is down 26 per cent; Russia (fourth place), where the Rouble is down by almost 13 per cent; Romania (seventh place), where the Leu has fallen almost nine per cent; and Hungary (ninth place), where the Forint is more than six per cent weaker than last year.

Louise Crompton at Expedia Australiasaid:“Monitoring exchange rates is a good way of determining when to visit a country. Earlier this year the Australian Dollar was much weaker but recent gains have led to the 2009 Expedia Foreign Exchange Index revealing countries that are primed for cost-effective travel.

“Scandinavia has become considerably more affordable, giving Australians a great opportunity to visit this spectacular part of the world and make the most of a region which would normally be out of reach for most travellers.

“Eastern Europe has traditionally offered good value and is a wonderful travel spot with so many hidden corners to explore. This, combined with the favourable exchange rate, should certainly move Eastern Europe up on the ‘must see list’,” she added. 

Closer to home, Australians now have greater reason to enjoy a short break to a tropical paradise, with the Australian Dollar around 18 per cent stronger against the Fiji Dollar (third place). Further across the Pacific, Mexico and Argentina sum up the top ten places coming in fifth place and eighth place respectively. The Australian Dollar recorded an 11 per cent gain on the Mexican Peso and more than six per cent on the Argentinean Peso.

“A further impact of the GFC, advantaging travellers, is the drop in the cost of flights and accommodation globally, making a trip to any of these Top Ten destinations even more affordable,” Ms Crompton concluded.

The 2009 Expedia Foreign Exchange Index has changed significantly from last year when South Korea, South Africa and Vietnam took out the top three places on the list; Argentina is the only recurring destination from 2008.  

Expedia.com.au top tips to help you get even more from your Australian Dollar:

  • Travel outside of school holidays and peak season when prices are lower
  • Don’t exchange your money for the local currency at the first available exchange; shop around to get the best rate
  • Research websites such as Expedia.com.au to compare prices and get the best deals
  • Book your flights, accommodation and car hire as a package deal to receive further discounts
  • Check hotel reviews by fellow travellers on Expedia.com.au; this will provide great insights into which hotels offer good value for money and help you pick the right hotel for your trip.

Below are the top ten destinations where the Australian Dollar has performed best in the past year and where Australians can now get even more bang for their Aussie buck:

Best value countries to visit based on how the Australian Dollar (AUD) has performed against major currencies in the past 12 months*

 

 

Rank

Currency

AUD Percentage Gain

 

1

Iceland(Icelandic Krona)

41.85

 

2

Poland(Polish Zloty)

26.10

 

3

Fiji(Fiji Dollar)

17.50

 

4

Russia(Russian Rouble)

12.92

 

5

Mexico(Mexican Peso)

10.85

 

6

Sweden(Swedish Krona)

9.47

 

7

Romania(Romanian Leu)

8.58

 

8

Argentina(Argentinean Peso)

6.23

 

9

Hungary(Hungarian Forint)

6.12

 

10

Norway(Norwegian Krone)

6.04

 

Source: HiFX (www.hifx.com.au)* 11/06/08 versus 11/06/09

Expedia’s travel suggestions for best-value destinations:                                           

Iceland

One of the youngest countries in the world, Iceland is quiet, picturesque and an ideal destination for those seeking a truly relaxing and unforgettable experience.

Mother Nature puts on a magnificent display in Iceland; glaciers and raging rivers with dazzling waterfalls make up the landscape which has become a favourite amongst photographers. For animal enthusiasts there is a multitude of birds to see, whales just offshore and many more surprises.

Icelanders enjoy sharing their culture with visitors, making for an intriguing and pleasant stay.

Iceland has been especially affected by the current global financial crisis, beingthe first western country to borrow from the International Monetary Fund since 1976.

Poland

Situated in the heart of Europe, Poland has long been a destination for tourists with a desire to witness historic World War II sites, natural beauty and amazing architecture.

Largely destroyed in the war and beautifully rebuilt during the aftermath, the capital Warsaw is a fabulous city with much to offer. Apart from its historical appeal, Warsaw has an impressive cultural scene with dozens of theatres, museums, cinemas and concert halls.

Poland is also home to some of the best forests in Europe in terms of size, plant diversity and rich wildlife variety. Notecka Forest consists of over 100,000 ha of pine forests and its proximity to the beautiful Lubuskie Lake District makes the area a great holiday destination for nature lovers.

Fiji

Known for its white sandy beaches and sparkling blue water, it’s hard to find a reason not to visit Fiji, especially when it is only a three-hour flight from Australia.

Fiji is perfect for singles, couples and families, offering everything from a romantic getaway to an exciting adventure. Water sports are a must in Fiji with plenty of areas to Jet Ski and parasail; it’s also famous for having some of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the world.

Fiji has accommodation for every budget. Denarau Island is often the most popular, with a selection of five-star resorts at an affordable price. 

Russia

Russia, the largest country in the world, is popular due to its history, natural beauty and warm hospitality.

Russia’s capital, Moscow is home to the famous Red Square, affectionately known as the central square of Russia and a must see landmark. Surrounding the Red Square are other iconic landmarks of Moscow including Saint Basil Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the state historical Museum and the famous GUM department store.

Nowadays GUM is home to over 200 high fashion stores, but the landmark has endured a rich and turbulent history once being the offices of Joseph Stalin.

Also not to be missed is the iconic Winter Palace, situated on the banks of the River Neva in St Petersburg. The Winter Palace was where Russian Tsars lived for many years and became well known as the symbol of the Russian Revolution during the storming of the Palace in 1917. Now the Palace is part of The Hermitage Museum, home to the largest painting collection in the world.

Mexico

One of the world’s most diverse countries, Mexico offers tourists a vast array of things to do and see.

The world’s most populous city, Mexico City, is a vibrant place with a rich history and great night-life. The National Museum of Anthropology has a magnificent collection of Mexican Indian artefacts that should not be missed.

The Pacific coast is the ideal place to explore the rich cultural and culinary traditions of Mexico along with some remarkable beaches, and home to the underwater treasures of the Sea of Cortez.

For those with a fascination for history, the Chichen Itza archaeological site is well worth a visit. This is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Mayan civilization and was a major economic power in the 1500’s.

Sweden

Sweden, the land of forests and lakes, offers beautiful scenery, architecture and a rich Viking history. Being a sparsely populated country, you won’t have the trouble of the hustle and bustle you would normally expect in Europe.

Sweden’s capital Stockholm embraces a unique character, with medieval streets mixed with modern high-tech architecture. Stockholm is the second most visited city in the Nordic countries and is fast becoming known as a fashion capital.

Sweden is great for fishing and water sports, and is also a family-friendly destination with an abundance of theme parks and zoos.

Romania

A favourite activity in Romania is discovering its medieval past, best explored through the many castles and fortresses dotted around the Transylvania region. In fact, Romanian castles have featured in famous international literature such as Dracula by Bram Stoker. Dracula's Castle (Bran Castle) was built in 1377 and sits on a 200 ft. rock overlooking the picturesque village of Bran. Masked balls and candlelit banquets are common in this quaint medieval town. Its remote location is encircled by mountains, while the night-time howls of wolves make it an excitingly spooky place.

The stunning surrounding natural environment also creates ideal conditions for hiking, riding or discovering old customs, handicrafts and folklore of the Romanian people. Myths and superstitions are strong beliefs of the locals who also have many stories to share of ghosts, apparitions, witches and werewolves.

With temperatures in the high 20’s during summer, the Black Sea coast is a cost-effective alternative to the French Riviera. Entertainment facilities and sanctuaries, home to hundreds of bird, fish and plant life, also line the coast offering an exciting yet relaxed seaside holiday.

Argentina

Argentina's tourism assets - stunning natural wonders, a passionate culture of tango, music and barbeques, as well as an elegant capital city, Buenos Aires, which has a distinct European-flavoured atmosphere - are now more tempting to Australians than ever before

Argentina also offers Australians a unique skiing holiday experience, where the ski season runs from mid-June to mid-October, while summer time (December to February) is the best time to visit the breathtaking glaciers of southern Patagonia.

Being somewhat of a hidden gem in the wine making world, Argentina is home to some of the purest, most organic wines in the world. The laid-back cosmopolitan city of Mendoza provides the perfect base for exploring the many wineries in the central northern regions, as well as sampling the many varieties of locally produced olive oil.

Hungary

Hungary’s capital, Budapest, has the reputation for being one of Europe’s most beautiful and exciting cities, famed for its inspiring architecture, Turkish-era thermal baths and captivating nightlife. Visitors can enjoy one of the city’s many museums, sail down the Danube River or experience a steaming bowl of authentic goulash in a traditional Hungarian restaurant.

Hungary’s castle district offers a bracing caving experience with a fascinating history. The cave area is located in the southern foothills of the Carpathian mountains on the international border between southern Slovakia and north-eastern Hungary. More than 700 caves have so far been identified, many of which are accessible to the public. The experience will leave you with tales about how some of the halls were used as emergency hospital rooms and some of the corridors as an escape route during wars.

Hungaryalso has twenty-two designated wine regions, which offer tourists a first hand insight into the local traditions and customs of the country.

Norway

There are many extraordinary scenic roads through Norway, including six National Tourist Routes which embrace Norway and its beautiful countryside, running along fjords, coasts, mountains and waterfalls.

In Northern Norway, the sun never sets during the summer months so visitors can enjoy the sights throughout the night or even take a midnight sun cruise.

Norway also has a number of famous museums including the Munch Museum, whichholds one of two painted versions of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” painting, which has been the target of several high-profile art thefts.The National Gallery of Norway holds the other painted version, which has also been stolen in the past.   

There is an abundance of fresh seafood available which goes down nicely with Norway’s national drink, Aquavit, a potato-based spirit flavoured with herbs such as caraway seeds, anise, dill, fennel and coriander.

For excellent packages and special deals to any of these locations, visit www.expedia.com.au

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