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Which are the priciest countries to get a quick meal?

June 26, 2013 DESTINATION, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The answer to this question (of pressing interest to travellers, especially those on a budget) may well depend on what you choose to eat. Two surveys conducted this year have produced differing results, though the overall gist is similar.

One survey uses club sandwiches as a measure, while the other uses an equally universal staple, the Big Mac. And while the first index measures cities, the other measures countries.

Generally, the cheapest way to dine is to eat what the locals eat. International surveys, however, have to find meals that are eaten everywhere. Hence the club sandwich and the Big Mac.bigmac

Geneva has taken over from Paris as the most expensive city in the world in which to order a club sandwich, at an average of USD 30.45, according to research released earlier this month by Hotels.com.

Using the classic hotel staple of a chicken, bacon, egg, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich as a barometer of affordability, the Hotels.com Club Sandwich Index (CSI) offers travellers an indication of the cost of living associated with their destination of choice.

The CSI average price is calculated from the real prices paid by guests for a club sandwich in 30 hotels in the capital or an important tourist city of each country surveyed, across five, four and three star categories.  In total, 840 hotels globally were canvassed.

Now in its second year, the index reflects not only changes in the actual price of a club sandwich across the globe but also the effect of currency fluctuations. Travellers will be pleased to note that, on the whole, prices are falling: the Genevan average of USD 30.45, although higher than any other destination, is also lower than last year’s most expensive, which was USD 33.10 in Paris.

Gastronomic hub and last year’s chart topper, Paris, this year slipped to number two with a new average of USD 27.45, closely followed by Oslo, which held on to the number three spot with USD 26.72. India’s New Delhi remained the cheapest destination to buy a club sandwich, with an average price of just USD 9.11.

New York City, the only U.S. destination to make the global list, anchored the middle with an average of USD 17.51, up USD 1.57 from its 2012 average of USD 16.93.

According to the Hotels.com Club Sandwich Index 2013, the following are the 20 most expensive cities in which to buy a club sandwich, priciest first:

  1. Geneva
  2. Paris
  3. Oslo
  4. Stockholm
  5. Copenhagen
  6. Rome
  7. Tokyo
  8. London
  9. Sydney
  10. Hong Kong
  11. Helsinkiclub sandwich
  12. Seoul
  13. New York
  14. Moscow
  15. Amsterdam
  16. Berlin
  17. Singapore
  18. Toronto
  19. Dublin
  20. Madrid 

The Big Mac index, on the other hand, was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level.

It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.

For example, , the Economist states, the average price of a Big Mac in the US at the start of 2013 was USD 4.37; in China it was only USD 2.57 at market exchange rates. So the “raw” Big Mac index says that the yuan was undervalued by 41% at that time.

In January 2013, the raw Big Mac Index list, indicating the price of Big Macs (priciest countries first) was:

  1. Venezuela
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Switzerland
  5. Brazil
  6. Uruguay
  7. Canada
  8. Denmark
  9. Australia
  10. Euro area
  11. Colombia
  12. Turkey
  13. Costa Rica
  14. USA
  15. Chile
  16. New Zealand
  17. Britain
  18. Israel
  19. Peru
  20. Argentina 

Written by : Peter Needham

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