Sunshine Saturday – 10th January predicted to be busiest day of year for holiday bookings

10th January is predicted to be the busiest day of the year for holiday bookings according to leading holiday providers Thomson and First Choice.  Based on booking patterns over the last five years and with great deals available including 20,000 free kids places, the holiday giants are expecting over one million people to go online or visit their high street stores on what is being termed Sunshine Saturday.

  • Over one million people expected to visit a Thomson or First Choice shop or website this Saturday
  • 37,000 customers expected to book in 24 hours
  • Mobile and tablet bookings expected to hit all time high with 40% of bookings made on devices

As the post-Christmas blues kick in and Brits look to escape the weather for warmer climes, Thomson and First Choice are expecting to see 37,000 customers book to go on holiday in 2015.  Bookings are predicted to peak in-store at 2.30pm and online at 8.30pm.

Furthermore, Thomson and First Choice are expecting more people than ever before to search for and book their holiday on a tablet or smartphone.  Over 40% of the online bookings made this Saturday are expected to be made via these devices, up 10% versus last year.

With the introduction of the new MyThomson and MyFirstChoice apps with search and book function, Thomson and First Choice are predicting a new mobile booking record for 2015, beating last year’s single purchase of nearly £14,000 for a family holiday to Orlando via a mobile device.

The most popular short/mid haul destinations for the coming year are anticipated to be the Balearics, Canaries and Greece, whilst for those looking for some faraway sun Costa Rica, Mauritius and Mexico are set to top the list.

Thomson Cruises’ Cuban Fusion and Pride of Panama winter itineraries on-board the Thomson Dream are expected to be Sunshine Saturday bestsellers as Brits look to explore countries like Cuba and Central America from the ship’s new home port in Montego Bay, Jamaica. With Thomson Celebration also based in Caribbean for winter, replacing the Dream in its previous port in Barbados, Thomson Cruises also expects to see strong demand for the already popular itineraries sailing to Caribbean favourites such as Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten. Sailings from Dubrovnik on-board the Thomson Celebration in the summer are also expected to be a hit with adult only itineraries available.

Taking all these holidaymakers away over the coming year, Thomson Airways will carry over 78,000 tonnes of luggage, flying over two million miles to 73 holiday destinations.

Andrew Flintham, Commercial Director, for Thomson and First Choice said: ‘With Christmas now out of the way many people feel they need a holiday in the sunshine to look forward to. Over the last few years we’ve noticed that our customers are booking holidays earlier and with searches over Christmas hitting an all-time high, we’re expecting the rush to continue with our busiest day of year this Saturday. It’s also the perfect time for Brits to take advantage of some of the great new year deals available to places like Croatia and Greece or further afield to Costa Rica, Thailand and Jamaica.”

© Thomson


Thomson and First Choice introduce 29 new routes for summer 2015 from regional UK airports

Thomson and First Choice are pleased to announce that in summer 2015 they will be increasing capacity at UK regional airports through the introduction of 29 new routes including Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, Marrakesh in Morocco and Antalya in Turkey, as well as the addition of further weekly flights for existing routes across the regions.

The move to introduce these routes is part of the UK’s largest tour operator’s strategy to ensure customers across the UK can fly from their local airport and stay at the best hotels in some of the most exciting destinations.

Summer 2015 new route highlights include:

  • Five new routes from Birmingham Airport to Agadir, Morocco; Chania, Greece; Djerba, Tunisia, Sal, Cape Verde and Porto Santo
  • Four new routes from Bristol Airport to Santorini, Greece; Pula, Croatia; Marrakech, Morocco and Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Re-introduction of the route to Antalya, Turkey from Cardiff Airport
  • New route from Humberside Airport to Palma, Majorca
  • Four new routes from Manchester Airport to Alghero, Italy; Djerba, Tunisia; Split, Croatia and current winter route to La Palma in the Canaries
  • New route to Mahon, Menorca from Norwich Airport, as well as the addition of a further weekly flight for existing route Dalaman, Turkey
  • Scottish customers will benefit from five new routes, including Dubrovnik, Croatia and Marrakesh, Morocco from Glasgow; Antalya, Turkey and Rhodes, Greece from Edinburgh, and Faro, Portugal from Aberdeen

Not only will customers from the 20 regional airports served by Thomson and First Choice be able to fly to some fantastic destinations, but they will also have the opportunity to choose varying durations – not just the standard seven and 14 night stays. Customers will now also have access to some of Thomson and First Choice’s most popular flagship hotels. These include the brand new for summer 2015 Thomson Sensatori Resorts in Ibiza and Turkey’s Dalaman region.

From next summer Thomson customers will also have the opportunity to experience the beautiful and less explored Croatian coastal region of the Dalmatian Coast, which will see Thomson launch its third Couples property in Croatia – the Adriatic Beach Hotel, served by a brand new flight to Split from Manchester.

Croatia’s popular Dubrovnik region will also be available from Glasgow, Bristol and Newcastle and will receive a second flight from Manchester, Gatwick and Birmingham, offering holidaymakers the chance to enjoy a Thomson Cruises’ cruise and stay holiday in Dubrovnik, with Thomson Celebration sailing out of the port for the summer season.

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for Thomson and First Choice, said of the move: “The demand for more regional routes is strong, and adding additional capacity from the 20 UK airports we serve as well as introducing 29 new routes demonstrates our commitment to getting holidaymakers to their sun spot more easily.

“Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.”

© First Choice

Watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup with MSC Cruises

Football fans heading off on holiday with MSC Cruises this summer needn’t worry about missing any of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil – every single game will be shown live across the entire fleet.

Special screenings of all 64 matches of the month-long tournament (June 12 – July 13 2014) will be available on each of MSC Cruises’ 12 ships, with a host of fun footie-themed events taking place to make the most of the action.

Matches will be shown on big screens in the Sports Bar of MSC’s Fantasia class ships and

MSC Magnifica, and in selected bars on other ships. To build excitement fans of all nations will be able to take part in fun competitions against their rivals, World Cup trivia quizzes and raffles and enjoy drinks promotions designed around the teams playing each day. Activities will include a World Cup table football competition, pool games and arts and craft sessions to style your own soccer shirt.

For extra spice, guests from England can find out just what the World Cup means to their Italian rivals. On June 14 – the date of England’s first Group D match with Italy – MSC Cruises has five ships operating Mediterranean cruises sailing in Italian waters (MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Musica, MSC Fantasia and MSC Preziosa).

For example, why not cheer on Roy’s boys during a seven-night cruise on board MSC Lirica departing from Marseille on June 8 2014? The sailing takes in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Valletta, Malta; Trapani, Italy; Civitavecchia, Italy and La Spezia, Italy, priced from just £649 per person, cruise only.

Alternatively, MSC Preziosa departs Venice on June 14 for a seven-night sailing calling at Bari, Italy; Katakolon, Greece; Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey; and Dubrovnik, Croatia, with prices starting at £789 cruise-only.

For more information see or call 0844 561 1955.

Home-grown tourism figures for summer 2013 are looking hot!

At the ABTA Travel Convention 2013 held in Dubrovnik this month, the national tourist board, VisitEngland, announced the latest tourism figures for summer this year. According to the organisation’s ‘Tourism Business Monitor’ – a regular survey of accommodation and visitor attractions in England – summer figures are looking hot! 55% of accommodation businesses and 66% of visitor attractions reported increased visitors numbers, representing the highest increase since the survey started. Suffice to say the UK’s summer weather helped, too…

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive said: “The unexpected heat wave of 2013 has certainly given English tourism a shot in the arm with operators and destinations throughout the country reporting soaring figures.  What is especially encouraging is that this improvement in visitor numbers has boosted optimism in the industry with the majority of our businesses predicting 2013 to be a better year than 2012.”

Hotels, camping and caravanning businesses and outdoor attractions have seen a greater year on year improvement than other sectors driven by an increase in all visitor types.  Hotels especially are the most confident looking forward to the October half term period.

This year’s boost has backed up the tourist board’s claim since the events of 2012 that there continues to exist a hearty appetite for holidays in England. Looking ahead, 56% of accommodation businesses describe forward bookings as good, compared to 51% at this time last year.  Across both accommodation, and attractions sectors, levels of confidence for the autumn period are slightly higher than in September 2012.

Initial results from VisitEngland’s evaluation of the ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ campaign launched in May this year and starring loveable duo Wallace & Gromit, show the campaign was highly visible and motivating especially with the core audience of families. Designed to encourage domestic visitors to book a holiday in the UK with their local travel agent, the pan-UK campaign has succeeded in increasing awareness among the general public that the high street travel agent is knowledgeable about breaks and holidays in the UK and offers good value for money. Final results from the campaign will be available by the end of the year.

© VisitEngland


Springtime brings on the urge to travel for many adventurers. With many schools breaking up for the holidays at this time of the year, families also use this window of time to make a quick, post-winter getaway that can often be rewarding in both experience and cost. When looking for a spring holiday destination, the choices are endless.

This list must begin with Paris, France. Although the weather can be unpredictable in terms of sudden showers, Paris has earned the reputation of having idyllic spring weather. Layering a light sweater is all one needs to do in order to be prepared for some still cool days; however, when the sun comes out in full force, the beauty of Paris is at its best. Multitudes of plants are in bloom, so visiting the city’s parks and gardens is a must at this time of year and everyone, especially the locals, is cheered by the fabulous weather.

Keeping with the French theme, the world-famous French Riviera is an excellent place to visit in the springtime. Tourists flock to this area in the summer months of July and August. In spring, however, this is not the case. The sun is still incredibly strong, and the water is already warm enough for swimming. Prices of airplane fares, train tickets and hotel accommodations are greatly reduced during this time of year in popular locations such as Marseille and Nice and in less touristy cities such as St. Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Monaco. Another even cheaper option for those planning an extended stay is one of the many house rental options available in the French Riviera.

For Brits really looking to get away in the spring, Ottawa, Canada has its annual Canadian Tulip Festival during May. Over three million flowers will be on display during this time, and since Ottawa is not typically known for being a tourist destination, this location could provide an incredibly relaxing holiday experience. Also popular in the spring is Napa Valley, California. During February and March, wine lovers can enjoy prices that are nearly half what they would be during peak season but still have access to the tours, tastings and scenery that Napa Valley is famous for.

Closer to home, tourists should look to Spain for excellent spring holidays. Barcelona is perennially known for its rich culture, nightlife and shopping. What tourists sometimes overlook is one of the most obvious things: Barcelona’s proximity to an amazingly high number of gorgeous beaches, which are ready for tourists in the springtime, as the popular beach bars, open for the season, serving light meals, coffees and cocktails. Beaches in northern Barcelona are trendier and have large waves perfect for early-season water sports, while the calmer, shallower southern beaches are well-suited for families.

Not to be overlooked in Spain is the city of Valencia, much less travelled than Barcelona, but equally beautiful. Seville is also an excellent spring holiday option, since the city will be naturally beautiful with plenty of flowers in bloom, plus the colourful array of costumes at the Seville Fair add to the ambiance of this special season.

If tourists want a typical beach vacation, they need to look no further than the Caribbean. During the months of April, May and June, hotel prices plunge to anywhere from 20 to 50 percent off their peak-season rates. Since the beautiful weather is standard for every time of year, this is an excellent time for tourists to enjoy the beach and avoid the summer crowds.

St. Lucia, for example, has an incredible number of all-inclusive hotels for such a small island. From hiking in the Grand Pitons to lounging on the golden sands, this popular destination can offer tourists everything they would expect of a summer holiday. There will perpetually be plenty of water sports offered, and restaurants and cafés stay open all year.

The Bahamas is also an excellent choice for a springtime holiday getaway. Popular activities include swimming and water sports, which are all readily available even in early spring. Also, tourists can enjoy days of island hopping via plane or boat, while some of the islands even connect to one another by bridge!

Just after hurricane season and just before peak tourist season, the vast collection of the Virgin Islands experiences a lull in tourism around mid-April. Those who are free to travel in spring can take advantage of the lower hotel rates and excellent climate of the Virgin Islands during this time. Scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming are activities that should be experienced in such a paradisiacal location, and spring may be the best time. Prices will likely be lower and companies will not be as busy.

Italian beaches can also be very popular during springtime. Capri is one beach which is popular year round. During the summer, as many people visit the island as actually live there, but the spring is less visited but very beautiful. Likewise, Ischia draws tourists to its thermal spas all year long. Spring is as good a time as any to enjoy the benefits of this island’s volcanic activity. Volcanic mud and natural hot springs are just two of the many therapeutic treatments that visitors can receive.

Santorini Island off the coast of the Greek mainland in the Aegean Sea is another popular springtime destination, while Dubrovnik, Croatia has a fabulous springtime climate that is less severe than the popular summer months. One of the only port cities to compete with Venice, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea.

© 2019 Holiday Weather