Travel Comment

Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

A good time for a holiday

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The International Air Transport Index is now slightly lower than it was back in 1989. Photo / Martin Sykes
The International Air Transport Index is now slightly lower than it was back in 1989. Photo / Martin Sykes

If you've got a big overseas trip in mind this is a pretty good time to take it. The cost of travel basics like accommodation and flights may have gone up a bit over the past few months as the global economy stabilises, but they're still incredibly good value.

For instance, the International Air Transport Index kept by Statistics New Zealand is now slightly lower than it was back in 1989. How many things can you think of that are the same price as they were 20 years ago? I can't think of any.

True, the index shows that the cost of international air travel rose 14 per cent in the second half of last year. But it's still 10 per cent down on the level at the end of 2008 and, like I said, it's still low by historical standards.

The Domestic Air Transport Index isn't quite as encouraging but it did fall each quarter last year which is more than you can say for most prices.

It's the same story for accommodation. The latest Hotel Price Index from online booking agency hotels.com shows hotel prices around the world dropped 14 per cent last year and are now lower than they were in 2004 when the index began.

Locally there's very good news, according to hotels.com, with Auckland now rating as the third cheapest city to stay in out of the 77 urban centres included in its index (only Las Vegas and Warsaw are better value).

It's always hard to be specific about hotel prices, because they pretty much all use dynamic pricing systems these days, but hotels.com reckons that overall the cost of a room in the City of Sails fell by 24 per cent last year.

The hotel industry disputes that figure. It reckons that during 2009 the average room rate in Auckland was $133 which equated to an 8.8 per cent drop. But, either way, it still suggests there's pretty good value to be had.

Across the Tasman things are good, too, with hotel prices having fallen 18 per cent in Sydney and a more modest three per cent in Melbourne last year.

In most of Europe and the United States prices are also much lower than a year before, according to hotels.com, though they have generally stabilised.

But in Asia hotel rates are still falling, having dropped by a whopping 19 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

On the other side of the coin, the most expensive city in the world to stay right now,according to hotels.com, is the Italian island of Capri. There, prices actually rose by 21 per cent last year in spite of the global economic downturn. The average cost of a room per night is now US$302.

So if you're planning a trip to Capri maybe you should save for a bit longer.

But if you've got somewhere else in mind it's probably a good idea to go before the prices bounce all the way back up again.

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