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According to a new survey of ski resorts by leading travel money provider M&S Money, skiers hoping to hit the slopes on a budget in 2009 should opt for Bulgaria.

The M&S Money survey to compare the cost of items bought on a typical ski trip at worldwide destinations found that the East European resort provided the best value. The report showed that skiers looking to holiday on a budget should consider Bulgaria, where the basket cost just £471 in the resort of Bansko, compared with the most expensive European ski destination which was Switzerland, a country which has long been a favourite with UK skiers. The cost of the M&S Money 'ski holiday basket' at the Swiss resort of Engelberg was £585.

Bulgaria is now in the European Union but is not due to replace its currency - the lev - with the Euro until 2012. Although the lev is pegged to the euro, visitors will still find most items cheaper than in other European countries. M&S stock an average of 32 currencies - including the lev - in each of their bureaux.

Italy is however one country within the Eurozone where skiers can still find value for money, particularly when eating out. The survey found that a three-course meal for two including wine cost £56 in the resort of Courmayeaur, compared to £75 in Flaine, France.

Although prices have increased for Brits holidaying within the Eurozone in the past year, ski resorts outside Europe fair little better.

America remains one of the most expensive ski destinations. The price of a seven-day ski lift pass for one adult costs £252 at the resort of Breckenridge in Colorado, compared to £146 in Bulgaria.

James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: "While many skiers will opt for half-board deals to try to reduce the price of a trip to the slopes this year, the cost soon builds-up when you consider all the equipment and ski passes as well as eating out.

"Sterling has weakened significantly against the euro in recent months, meaning Brits heading to popular resorts in Switzerland and France will notice the difference in the price of everyday items.

"Our survey has shown that skiers willing to try alternative destinations, such as Bulgaria and Italy, can still enjoy a break on a budget. Travellers can keep the cost down by buying foreign currency before flying and make the best of competitive exchange rates offered in M&S bureaux de change."

Notes to Editors:

About M&S Money

M&S Money (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top ten Credit Card provider and the second largest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers a range of insurance cover, including Home Insurance and Car Insurance, as well as loans, savings and investment products.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations with over 9,500 offices in 85 countries and territories.

For further information please call the M&S Money press office:

Liz Neild
M&S Money press office
Marks & Spencer Money
Kings Meadow
CH99 9FB
01244 686 068

An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews

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