Thomas Cook is lobbying the Government for an extra British bank holiday as part of its turn-of-year advertising campaign.

Executive director of marketing Simon Carter said customers will be able to sign petitions in the group’s 800 travel agencies, on the tour operator’s website and on Thomas Cook flights, check-in desks and resort welcome meetings.

It is hoped the petition, calling for an additional day off, could be presented to the Government as early as the summer. However, Carter admitted it will depend on the number of signatures it attracts.

Around two-thirds of 150 MPs have already backed the campaign when surveyed by the operator and more will be lobbied. It is hoped the campaign will redress the imbalance of bank holidays which sees the UK second last in the European Union with just eight bank holidays.

To back the campaign, Thomas Cook is offering one day’s holiday for free with millions of holidays sold through all its brands. The group is also giving all of its employees an extra day’s holiday.

Carter said: “This is our most exciting campaign to date, a true innovation which we promised as part of our recent merger.”

The operator’s multi-million pound advertising campaign launches on Boxing Day, featuring TV, press and online advertising. It will initially focus on the lobbying efforts before adopting a more conventional focus on destinations and holidays as the market picks up.

Carter said: “The peak time for sales is around January 14-19 and that’s when we’ll make the transition and alter the message accordingly.”

The campaign will advertise all four of its sales channels: online, call centres, travel agents and Thomas Cook TV.

Posters from Thomas Cook’s extra bank holiday campaign

Thomas Cook poster campaigning for an extra British bank holiday   Thomas Cook poster campaigning for an extra British bank holiday