Eager holidaymakers can already book summer 2020 breaks after the UK's largest tour operator launched its programme five months earlier than normal.

Tui began selling trips for as far away as October 2020 on Thursday because customer feedback revealed many want to book "as early as possible".

Securing free child places, getting the best choice of hotels and spreading the cost are among the reasons why holidaymakers like to get an early booking, according to the travel firm.

Summer 2020 holidays would not have gone on sale until April under Tui's previous strategy.

More than 5,000 people made pre-registration appointments at the company's stores ahead of the launch so they could be among the first to book.

Tui predicts its change of policy will prove popular with engaged couples planning an overseas wedding as it will give them "peace of mind" to secure their venue.

The firm's UK and Ireland commercial director Richard Sofer said: "We expect the feedback to be very positive.

"We have seen competitors move their dates forward over the last couple of years and we wanted to be bold by launching significantly earlier.

"In previous years we've aligned with the traditional brochure launches in April and July, however in an ever digital-focused landscape it made sense to offer more flexibility and choice much earlier."

Mr Sofer predicted that rival firms will also begin selling beach holidays almost two years in advance.

He said: "We would expect our competitors to respond as quickly as they are able to by launching their programmes as soon as possible.

"We do expect the early launch to be a success and see this as something we will continue to do."

Tui offers summer holidays in European hotspots such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, as well as long-haul locations like the US, the Caribbean and Mexico.