Travel currency

Travel currency

American Express has revealed its 2012 Foreign Currency Index, which measures the popularity of currencies based on volumes purchased.

Within the top 25, ten currencies improved on their ranking with Mexico, Hungary, Norway, Poland and Jamaica all making gains. According to the Index, seven destinations, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, saw a decline in demand for their currency in 2012.

Terry Perrin, Director at American Express Foreign Exchange Services, said: “As expected, the Euro and the US dollar continue to dominate the top positions of our Currency Index, along with the currencies of popular holiday hotspots Turkey and Egypt.

“However, a number of countries including Mexico in particular have seen impressive growth over the past few years. Just four years ago it was 16th in the American Express Currency Index.

“Its jump to fifth position highlights that it is an increasingly popular destination for British tourists. Interestingly, popular long haul destinations such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand all dropped a place in this year’s Index.”

American Express takes a look at five destinations that have risen up the Currency Index:

Mexican Peso popularity peaks

Despite gloomy Mayan predictions that the world would end in 2012, the Mexican peso managed to edge the Australian dollar out by climbing to fifth position by the end of 2012, in the American Express Currency Index. This increase in demand for the peso is reflected by figures from the Office of National Statistics that show a 30 per cent increase in UK visitors to Mexico in the second quarter (Q2) of last year compared with Q2 of 2011.

Hungarian Forint races up the currency grid

Hot on the heels of last year’s Hungarian F1 Grand Prix, the central European country has raced up the American Express Currency Index table. Over the summer holiday period the forint climbed to 20th place, five places up on its position in 2011. Official tourism figures reflect this trend, showing a 5.7 per cent increase in British visitors to Hungarian hotels in 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. The Hungarian Forint finished 2012 in 23rd place, three places higher than in 2011.

Norway ‘Kroned’ currency king

The Norwegian Krone performed well in 2012, gaining two positions in the American Express Currency Index, ending the year in 15th place. 2012 was a good year for tourists visiting Norway, with NASA claiming it was one of the best years to catch a glimpse of the famous Aurora Borealis - the northern lights. Norway’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported an increase in UK tourists, with the number of British visitors rising by 13.7 per cent when compared with the same figures from 2011.

Poland pushes up the Index

The volume of Polish zloty purchased by UK travellers increased in 2012 when compared with equivalent year-end figures from 2011. The spotlight was on Poland in June 2012, when it co-hosted the 2012 UEFA European Championships, which saw an estimated 680,000 football fans visit the country to attend matches. UK visitors to Poland increased by almost 14 per cent in the lead up to and during the tournament. The zloty finished the year in 17th place in the American Express Currency Index.

Golden year for Jamaican tourism

As Jamaica celebrated its 50 year Golden Anniversary of Independence in August 2012, the fifth largest island in the Caribbean also proved a hit with British tourists. In July/August 2012, American Express saw a significant increase in the volume of Jamaican dollars bought by Britons, which took it to a high of 17th place in the index over the summer holiday period. By the end of 2012, the currency settled at 21st place, up three places from its end of year position in 2011.

Terry Perrin added: “It will be interesting to watch these currency trends closely in 2013 to see if these five countries continue their rise in popularity and also if some new contenders emerge over the course of the year.”

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