Friday, 1 May 2009

Holiday cost comparisons - be sceptical

Another of those meaningless holiday price comparisons which appear every spring - this time from Post Office Travel Services.

Its Holiday Costs Barometer shows prices for a basket of goods in various popular tourist countries, showing, for example, the relative price of a three course meal for two with a bottle of house wine - and a cup of coffee,

But how to compare like with like? Is that £3.83 coffee cited by the barometer in Greece a cappuccino at an outside table on the seafront - or a small, strong Greek coffee which might cost 90 pence. And is that £1.91 coffee in the US a single cup - or the unlimited supply often available for the price?

And how about that three course meal. How can you possibly compare a Greek salad and a moussaka with a French prix fixe? Not to say that one is better than the other - that depends on your taste and mood at the time - just that they are totally different experiences.

Does it matter? In that newspapers tend to report such surveys dutifully - and in that these comparisons may exaggerate the real price of one country vis a vis another, I think it does.

Besides, isn't a fool someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing?

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