Bookings for holidays to Italy have surged by 35% across the Thomas Cook Group in the past year.

The demand is being driven by Sicily, where the operator is opening a new own-brand hotel.

Cook’s programme to the island covers 21 hotels and resorts, including the new 100-room SENTIDO Acacia Marina in the town of Marina di Ragusa.

The new property will be served by weekly flights this summer from Birmingham airport to Comiso – the only charter to the destination from the UK.

Thomas Cook UK managing director, Chris Mottershead, said: “We’ve seen increased demand for holidays to Italy over the last few years, so we’re delighted to be to be able make this beautiful region even more accessible to our customers.

“We’re sure our holidaymakers will enjoy the unique mix of beaches, culture and cuisine it has to offer.

“Our own-brand hotels are what make us unique, so the newly launched SENTIDO Acacia Marina will provide our customers with the high quality experience they have come to expect from us.”

Seven nights half-board in a superior sea view double room starts at £456 per person, based on two adults sharing.

Flight-only prices lead in £31.99 one way for the service which will run from May to October.