A third of Britons visiting Europe this year plan to drive while on holiday – either in their own car or in a rental vehicle, according to the Post Office Travel Money Motoring on the Continent report . Published for the first time since the Covid pandemic, the new report reveals that the crude oil crisis means holiday motorists will face pump price rises in 15 of the 17 countries surveyed for the report2. It also found that over two-in-five of them are unaware of new European road rules and risk big fines.
France, Spain and Italy are the top choices for holiday motoring, according to consumer research conducted for the report4. Of these three favourites, drivers will fare best in Spain where the average pump price of £1.40 per litre made it fourth cheapest in the survey for unleaded petrol and 4p lower than in the UK (£1.44). The £1.25 cost of diesel is 21p less a litre than in the UK, making it second cheapest in the survey.
Over one-in-five (21 per cent) will drive in France but high prices at the pumps make it one of the most expensive countries for fuel, at £1.62 for unleaded petrol and £1.47 for diesel. The same is true of Italy, where unleaded petrol costs £1.62 a litre and £1.49 for diesel. However, Andorra, a useful detour enroute to Spain, is cheapest of all for unleaded petrol (£1.23) and diesel fuel (£1.10).
Although fuel costs across Europe have fallen from the record levels they reached over the past year and sterling is at a 2023 high against the euro, pump prices are higher in almost 90 per cent of the countries surveyed than in 2019, when the pricing comparison was last conducted. The biggest percentage rise of over 31 per cent is in Switzerland, priciest for diesel fuel at £1.76 a litre and expensive for unleaded petrol at £1.66 (15thof 17 countries). Prices have also risen significantly in Luxembourg at £1.41p (+29.4 per cent) for unleaded petrol and £1.26 (+29.9 per cent) for diesel – although it remains one of the cheapest places to fill up.
In better news for the holiday motorist, fuel prices have fallen in Portugal. 1,000 miles of motoring will cost £224.11 using unleaded petrol and £196.14 for diesel. At £1.48 a litre for unleaded petrol, this represents a fall of 1p (0.7 per cent) since 2019, while diesel also costs 1p (0.8 per cent) less at £1.29. The cost of unleaded petrol has also fallen 1p a litre to £1.59 in the Netherlands.
Closer to home, Ireland emerges from the pump price comparison as one of the cheapest place to fill up with either unleaded petrol – £1.38 per litre/£209.79 for 1,000 motoring miles, second only to Andorra – or diesel fuel – £1.28/£194.47 for 1,000 miles, fourth cheapest in the survey. Prices have risen by just over four per cent and are lower for both fuels than in the UK.
Ireland is one of 14 countries where motorists driving a diesel car will pay considerably less than for unleaded petrol, a trend picked up in previous reports. The only exceptions are Sweden, where diesel fuel costs 14p more a litre, Switzerland where it is 10p more expensive and the UK where motorists will pay an average of 2p a litre extra. By contrast, Britons will pay 32p less a litre to drive a diesel car than an unleaded petrol one in Denmark, 27p less to do so in Greece and 25p less in the Netherlands.
As Britons gear up to drive abroad, a wave of low emission zones are coming into force across Europe this summer, which, if flouted, could result in costly fines. Post Office research found that 43 per cent of Britons planning trips are unaware of low emission zone restrictions in top destinations like France and Spain where they are most likely to drive. Over half (52 per cent) were unaware of daily entry fees and permits required in many cities and 58 per cent did not know about the requirement to display windscreen stickers showing the emissions levels of their vehicle. In France ‘Crit Air’ emission stickers must be displayed and if not could result in fines of €68-€135.
42 per cent of those planning to drive in Europe did not realise that speeding can carry spot fines. Yet almost one-in-five (19 per cent) admitted having incurred spot fines for speeding or violating other travel regulations on past trips to Europe. Similar numbers (18 per cent) said they had been given ULEZ-style fines for contravening low emission zone regulations and 47 per cent were unaware that those with a paper driving licence issued before 31 March 2000 will need an international driving permit.
“With flight costs reported to be soaring, it is understandable that so many Britons have decided to drive to Europe this summer. However, it is worrying that many people have not realised that driving laws have changed since their last trip and they could be risking big fines if they don’t learn the rules of the road. Popular destinations like France and Spain have long been operating spot fines so it is crucial for holiday motorists to carry foreign currency with them in case they are stopped for speeding or falling foul of new rules.
“Our pump price research found that the cost of filling up in Europe can vary by as much as £100 so we advise planning driving routes carefully before setting out to keep costs down. Save money by diverting from the motorway and trunk roads into local towns. Supermarket prices will be cheaper than on the roadside, just as they are here in the UK. Remember to carry some foreign currency as not all petrol stations in rural locations accept plastic”, says Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office.
Tips for driving across Europe
- Get to know the new motoring rules that apply in the countries where you plan to drive.
- Carry foreign cash to deal with speeding or parking fines or to pay for fuel.
- Check the level of breakdown assistance cover you have for driving in Europe.
- Check fuel costs in the countries where you plan to drive and plan detours to save cash.
- Avoid filling up on the motorway – divert to a local town and get supermarket fuel.
- Make sure your driving licence is legal in Europe and get an international permit if not.
Gatwick airport opens new £250m train station
A new look Gatwick Airport station has opened promising to offer passengers travelling between Brighton and London faster and more reliable journeys.
A bigger £250m rail station with a new second concourse and airport entrance is now available, doubling the space for the millions of passengers that use the station each year.
The first passengers to use the new concourse and airport entrance arrived on the 05.48 Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service on platform 7.
Eight new escalators and five new lifts will provide a step change for accessibility at the airport’s South Terminal. The new lifts and escalators, along with four new stairways and widened platforms, will help passengers move between the train station and the airport more quickly and easily.
Easier journeys between train and plane will benefit passengers across the wider network, helping keep trains running on time by removing the congestion on platforms that delay trains.
“This project is not just for those making their way to the airport, the work benefits passengers right across the route by giving them quicker journeys and a more reliable timetable”, says Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail Sussex route director.
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “With millions of people travelling into Gatwick Airport by train each year, this station is a major public transport hub and has been upgraded thanks to Government funding, improving the train-to-plane journey and delivering more reliable services for passengers.
“Today’s opening demonstrates this Government’s commitment to funding improvements to our rail network, transforming a vital station into an impressive gateway to the UK and helping more British and international passengers to travel by train.”
The new concourse will now act as the new entrance for people accessing the airport terminal, while the existing concourse will be for people exiting. The existing station concourse, station footbridges and the South Terminal linkspan have been refurbished and reconfigured to provide a seamless one-way system to the airport from the train station.
Travelers are spending more on ‘affordable luxury’, study says
A new research from World Travel Market London 2023, has revealed that “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular – despite the squeeze on many holidaymakers’ budgets.
The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report – compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics – has revealed that consumers generally remain determined to go on holiday and plenty are still prioritising upmarket options.
The report, unveiled on 6 November during the travel and tourism event taking place in London, says “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular “amid promising sentiment overall”.
It explains that this growth area in travel aligns with a broader trend for consumers to seek out new and unique experiences on holiday.
“After the pandemic and restrictions on travel, many have wanted to upgrade their experience…as consumers proactively catch up on missed tourism experiences,” says the report.
The report notes: “Consumers unaffected by economic downturns are likely to continue opting for luxury destinations.
The report cites United States consumer data from MMGY which suggests that the cost of living is having more of an effect on households with annual incomes under $50,000.
However, those earning more indicated a “high likelihood” of future travel.
Nonetheless, the report warns that some of the post-pandemic drivers of travel demand may have “gone into reverse in recent months”, posing a risk to continued expansion.
It points to persistently high costs and the recovery of sterling and the euro, which is making the purchasing power of the US dollar weaker in Europe.
The price of jet fuel is significantly higher than at the start of the year, putting pressure on air fares.
Consumers’ personal disposable income is also under pressure as their own transport and other living costs rise.
Despite these headwinds, the report notes: “Higher costs have not yet been a significant deterrent to growth and travellers appear willing to pay higher prices.”
“We are witnessing a remarkable resilience as people are still prioritising travel and many are seeking ‘affordable luxury’, such as higher rated accommodation or premium economy and business cabins instead of economy”, says Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at WTM London.
Meanwhile, the travel industry continues to face supply side problems, amid geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and staff shortages still affect many markets because large numbers of workers switched to other sectors during the pandemic.
London is the most searched-for destination for flights in 2023
Travel subscription platform eDreams, one of Europe’s largest e-commerce businesses, launched its ‘Year in Travel’ report today. The study, which analyses searches and booking data from its customers in all key European markets and the USA, reveals the evolution of travel, including top destinations, booking habits and growth destinations.
London came third as the most popular booked destination globally, behind Paris in 1st place and Barcelona in 2nd. However, the British capital pipped Paris to the post as the most popular destination for flight searches from all markets globally during 2023 – followed by Paris, New York City, Bangkok and Barcelona.
London was the 2nd most popular booked destination for Germans, the 3rd most popular booked destination for Portuguese and 6th on the list for departures from Spain. For in-coming arrival by air to the UK during 2023, the largest percentage were from Spain (19%), followed by Germany (12%) and Italy (11%). French arrivals made up 10%.
British travellers instead had their sights on Dublin as the most popular booked destination and all top destinations were short-haul, reflecting the overall picture of the distance Brits travelled during 2023: 76% continental, 15% intercontinental and 9% domestic.
“Our research shows that travel continues to be a very important part of people’s lives. When we look at the global travel map for 2023, traditional hotspots like Paris, Barcelona and London remain firm favourites. But, we have also seen long-haul destinations like Bangkok, Las Vegas, and New York grow in popularity this year. That’s really exciting as it shows how travellers are embracing the plethora of choice, information and inspiration available to them thanks to new technologies like AI and increasingly influential social media platforms like Tik Tok”, says Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO.
As 2024 is packed with major international sporting events – including the Olympics, the Paralympics, Grand Prix, the Euros and the T20 cricket, eDreams’ data shows where interest is already heating up. Global searches for travel to Paris during the Olympics in 2024 vs the same dates in 2023 are up by +41%. 2024 will be the 20th anniversary of Bahrain’s Grand Prix and global travel searches for the weekend of 2 March are up +183% compared to last year.
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