Travels firms set for ‘Sunshine Saturday’
Travel firms are preparing for their busiest weekend of the year as many people respond to the post-Christmas return to work by booking a holiday.
Millions of people will browse holiday websites and brochures while the UK is hit by a blast of freezing weather.
Thomas Cook expects to sell more holidays online and in stores on Saturday – referred to by the travel industry as Sunshine Saturday – than any other day in 2019.
Bookings over the weekend are set to be more than double the average total.
The company anticipates concern over the value of sterling to encourage more people to book all-inclusive trips.
Thomas Cook’s sales and e-commerce director Phil Gardner said: “With Christmas all wrapped up this is traditionally the weekend when the nation turns its attention to its next holiday and with a cold snap apparently on the way, we expect getting a sunshine break in the diary will feature on the weekend to-do list along with taking the tree down.
“Uncertainty about exchange rates is sure to be on holidaymakers’ minds more than ever this year so we think all-inclusive packages will prove popular as customers take advantage of being able to lock in costs for food and drink at the time of booking.
“In fact all-inclusive bookings for this winter are already up 11% compared to this time last year.”
Thomas Cook is tipping Turkey and Tunisia to be among the most popular destinations booked this weekend.
Mr Gardner said: “Value for money will influence where people book and for this reason we predict Turkey will be popular thanks to the Turkish lira still being relatively weak.
“The destination was Thomas Cook’s second most popular last year and since Christmas Eve online bookings are up 57% year-on-year.
“The other destination to watch on Sunshine Saturday is Tunisia. February marks a year since we were the first tour operator to return to the country.
“So far families account for two-thirds of this summer’s bookings and we have increased our weekly flights to 17, up from 11 last year, to meet demand.”
Thomas Cook’s share price plunged in November after the company issued a profit warning.
The company unveiled a loss after tax of £163 million, blaming extra costs and the effect of the heatwave on holiday bookings.