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Time to banish January blues ... it's Sunshine Saturday

Holidaymakers join the rush to book their summer break

By Amanda Ferguson

The rain is pouring down and there is talk of snow making an appearance - but today is known as 'Sunshine Saturday'.

It is predicted to be one of the busiest days of the year for booking holidays as people try to banish the January blues and dream of sunnier climes as the winter weather bites.

According to Thomson and First Choice, more than one million people across the UK are expected to go online or visit their high street travel agent today, based on booking patterns over the last five years.

Among the businesses in Northern Ireland bracing themselves for an influx of inquiries is Chaka Travel in south Belfast. "January is always a strong month for travel companies, and we are no different," Tim Ferris from Chaka Travel said.

"Taking a look outside right now is enough inspiration for anyone to plan an escape.

"We have just entered our 20th year in business and our signature destinations of Mauritius, South Africa, Mexico and the USA always prove popular at this time of year.

"From our golf clients to honeymooners, Sunshine Saturday always gets people in the mood to book."

Andrea McAlpine from Oasis Travel, which has shops in Bangor, Belfast, Holywood and Lisburn, said: "Cruising is one of the major holiday choices, especially with Holiday World looming, there are lots of offers.

"The States is always very popular and Croatia is very much a growing destination.

"January weather gives people inspiration because they want something to look forward to."

Thousands of people are expected to pour through the doors of the King's Hall next weekend for the annual Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show extravaganza.

It is being opened by X-Factor contestant and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here runner-up Jake Quickenden.

New exhibitors include tourism bodies for destinations including China, Oklahoma, Kansas, Northern Cyprus, Andalucia and Antalya.

Travel manager Gillian Galbraith said: "We have brought new destinations on this year, including Argentina and Brazil."

Travel world show

The Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show runs at the King's Hall Pavilions, Belfast, from 1-9pm on Friday 16 and from 11am-5.30pm on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18. Tickets are £5 for adults; £4 for seniors, £3 for students and £10 for a family ticket (two adults and accompanied children). To find out more about the show, visit www.holidayworldshow.com.

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