Petrol prices at the pump could rise by 5p a litre in the coming weeks, hitting holiday motorists in the middle of summer.
The warning from the AA comes as a surge in wholesale cost of petrol across Europe has already led to a rise in petrol and diesel prices in the UK, with more to potentially come.
Its latest Fuel Price Report shows UK petrol prices has risen from 134.61p a litre in mid-June to 135.78p now on average. The pump price of diesel, which averaged 139.16p a month ago, has also risen more than a penny to 140.24p.
The AA said: “A $100-a-tonne increase in the cost of petrol across NW Europe, combined with a weaker pound, heralds a potential 5p increase in pump petrol costs.”
The price hike warning comes days after competition watchdogs rejected demands for another inquiry into the fuel market.
The AA said if prices rise by 5p a litre, then a family driving from Hounslow in West London, for example, heading to Cornwall would pay almost £3 more for a return trip than they would have last month. A survey by the motoring organisation of last year’s visitors to Cornwall found 26% of visitors to Cornwall came from London and the South East.
That means for every 100,000 trips to Cornwall from London and the South East, with 86% of visitors coming by car, a potential petrol price rise would take nearly £250,000 away from the tourism sector and instead into the pockets of the fuel industry.
London and the North West currently have the cheapest petrol, at 135.5p a litre on average. Scotland and East Anglia share the position of most expensive areas in the UK for diesel, both averaging 140.8p a litre, while the North West has the cheapest at 139.7p.
Edmund King, the AA’s President said: “After the price of petrol stabilised at around 134.6p a litre through much of this June and weeks were filled with beautiful weather and sporting excellence, it was perhaps inevitable that oil and fuel market speculators would cast a black cloud over what was promising to be a glorious summer.”
The UK has the 11th highest petrol price and the fourth highest diesel price in Europe.
A survey earlier this year found nearly a quarter of businesses in Scotland have considered cutting staff due to the pressure of rising fuel costs.