STA Travel is claiming a strong start to 2016 with sales up 12% on the first week of last year as senior management changes were confirmed.

Store opening hours have been extended to 10pm and at its call centres in the key turn-of-year trading period.

Popular destinations seeing growth include Australia (up 9%), the US (18%), and Thailand (25%).

Indonesia has seen a 68% jump in bookings and Peru is up 53% year-on-year.

Sales for Brazil are up 88% on this time last year, most likely due to the halo effect of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

The sales rise comes as former UK product and marketing director, Tim Fryer, is promoted to the newly-created position of country manager UK and France.

He will lead the commercial trading and marketing strategies for both countries.

Sales director, Jackie Knell, and business development director, Harriet Kerr, continue in their current positions and report to Fryer, as do the UK marketing and product teams.

Sarah Dean recently joined as UK head of marketing from Flight Centre Travel Group.

Fryer said: “I am delighted by our strong start to the year, and am confident this will continue thanks to our market-leading prices and product. The summer is already selling well which is extremely encouraging.

“Expanding our product offering beyond the ‘backpacker norms’ is paying dividends as travellers under-30 seek increasingly adventurous and unusual destinations.

“For example, much of the growth for Indonesia is coming from our customers going beyond Bali to explore lesser-known parts of this intriguing country, such as Java, Sumatra and Lombok.

“Other fast-growing destinations for us include the Philippines, and Iceland, as a stop-over to and from the USA.”