Holidaymakers heading off to Switzerland for a skiing holiday should prepare themselves for a nasty surprise.
The already-high prices in the country's resorts are set to go up even further, following a surprise move by the Swiss Central Bank.
Yesterday, the bank announced that it was scrapping its policy capping the Swiss franc at no more than 1.2 euros. Its decision was prompted by the news that the European Central Bank is considering quantitative easing - printing more money. Switzerland was worried that, with the currency peg in place, a depreciation in the value of the euro would hit its own currency too.
However, within minutes of the announcement, the Swiss franc shot up by more than a third against the euro, before later settling down at about 13% up.
As a result, any Brits heading off for a skiing holiday are likely to find themselves in for a nasty surprise. In swanky Verbier, for example, the cost of a one-week ski pass has shot up from an already-dear £290 to an eye-watering £320.
"Just as I was thinking about a late season weekend in Verbier via Geneva - that's that plan scuppered then," comments one skiier on the Snowheads forum. "Ouch. That's going to make our tentative ski weekend plans very much focused outside of Switzerland now!" adds another.
Other Swiss products, from chocolate to watches, are also expected to see price rises. "Words fail me... today's SNB action is a tsunami; for the export industry and for tourism, and finally for the entire country," commented Nick Hayek, chief executive of the Swatch watch group.
But the good news is that the pound has seen further rises against the euro, making the rest of Europe more affordable. A pound is now worth more than 1.3 euros, compared with 1.2 this time last year.
Already, according to a new report from the Post Office, some resorts are up to a fifth cheaper than they were this time last year. Croatia has seen prices fall by 12%, while Cyprus and the Costa del Sol have got cheaper too.
"Holidaymakers travelling to Europe in the coming year can look forward to better value-for-money, although they should still do their homework to ensure they don't miss out on the best deals," says Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money.
"There is currently little difference in resort costs between the Algarve, Sunny Beach and the Costa del Sol, which are cheapest in Europe, but keep an eye on Crete and Cyprus, where falls in the cost of eating out make these islands better value than ever before."
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