Tour firms cut prices in bid to tempt sun-starved customers

The post-Christmas holiday booking bonanza kicked off yesterday with tourists tempted with special deals.

Travel company Going Places wooed would-be travellers with 200 discounts on holidays with Airtours.

Thomas Cook knocked 10 per cent off holidays booked before the end of January and Monarch Airlines slashed the prices of summer 2011 flights and holidays.

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The Going Places discount is for all holidays booked before the end of February. The deal also involves child-goes-free offers for many holidays.

Going Places sales director Joanna Wild said: "With the cold weather starting earlier this year and looking set to stay, there are exceptional offers in place to ensure they enjoy a sunny start to the new year whatever the weather."

Thomas Cook group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: "Holidaymakers are returning to the home of the traditional package holiday – Spain and Greece – as the pound strengthens against the euro and hoteliers respond to the competition from Turkey.

"2011 will still see a huge number of British holidaymakers travel to Turkey as their standard of product and range really does offer outstanding value."

Monarch Airlines managing director Tim Jeans said: "After the snow-filled days pre-Christmas and the stresses of the festive season, people in the UK are now longing to get away, relax and enjoy some much-needed sunshine."

The Direct Holidays company is also offering a number of early-booking deals, which include 100 off per booking or a free child place. They are available on all holidays departing from May to October 2011.

Meanwhile, new research has revealed that one in 10 workers will not have their full holiday entitlement this year, with some failing to take two weeks of their annual leave.

A survey of 2,000 adults by the Post Office showed that one in four of those missing out on their full holidays will lose almost a week, while six per cent will fail to take two weeks.

Workers who do not take all their holiday leave in 2010 will not be able to carry any days over to next year, the study found.

The Post Office calculated that the UK's workers will lose 179 million days of holiday this year.

The industries where employees were least likely to take all their holidays included construction, media and marketing, agriculture and leisure. The research also showed that more than one in four people will work over the festive period and a further one in six will work from home.