Mykonos has the X-Factor as Tulisa Strikes a Chord With Viewers

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Tulisa proves most influential judge ever with 433 per cent rise in online flight searches for Mykonos
Kelly Rowland helps drive 50 per cent rise in searches to Miami
X-Factor increasingly inspires British travellers to visit the stars’ holiday hotspots

Following this weekend’s ITV1 X-Factor episodes, which saw 32 contestants singing for survival at the ‘judges’ houses’ around the world, there has been a surge in interest to the featured destinations according to TravelSupermarket.

This year’s judges and their locations have proved much more popular than last year’s line-up. While Cheryl Cole’s destination last year, Ascot, showed no uplift in searches, Tulisa’s trip to Mykonos, Greece led to a whopping 433 per cent rise in interest for flights since the shows aired.

The new judges’ locations trumped that of mainstay Louis Walsh. Louis’s destination, Barcelona, has seen uplift in searches of just 22 per cent. However Los Angeles, as visited by Gary Barlow and the boys has seen a 43 per cent increase while Miami, which was visited by Kelly Rowland and the girls, received an increase of 48 per cent compared to the previous week.

As well as flights, online searches for package holidays for the featured locations also saw a significant increase. Searches for package holidays to Mykonos increased by 255 per cent after the show and the increase for Miami was 30 per cent.

TravelSupermarket compared the following searches on its site for this week versus last week* – before the weekend’s much anticipated episodes – to determine which destination has the X-Factor:


    1. Mykonos, Greece (Tulisa Contostavlos) – uplift of 433 per cent


    1. Miami, USA (Kelly Rowland) – uplift of 48 per cent


    1. Los Angeles, USA (Gary Barlow) – uplift of 43 per cent


  1. Barcelona, Spain (Louis Walsh) – uplift of 22 per cent

The results show a marked increase compared to last year – signaling that our desire to copy the jet-setting lifestyle of our favourite judges is well and truly on the increase. Last year Louis led the way when he took his hopefuls to Shannon with the Irish location seeing an uplift in searches of 83 per cent. Marbella, as visited by Simon Cowell, saw searches climb by 45 per cent and Sydney in Australia – as visited by Dannii – saw an increase of 42 per cent at this stage of the competition in 2010.

Overall, this year’s destinations were bolstered by flight searches totaling a whopping 546 per cent, compared to just 170 per cent in 2010.

Peter Smith, travel expert at TravelSupermarket said: “People enjoy being inspired by TV, celebrities and films for their holidays, so the concept of ‘screenspiration’ isn’t a new trend. It in fact opens up a whole new world of possibilities that people might not have considered before.

“We all have our daydreams of visiting the beautiful places we see on screen, but it seems that we are now looking to live the dream and are pricing up these destinations.

“My advice is to do some research into the destinations you are interested in before booking, particularly when looking at the best time of year to go. Greece for example is lovely and warm in September when the programme was filmed, but will be cooling down though the autumn and winter months and could leave holidaymakers disappointed.

“Once you have an idea of when to go, holidaymakers should shop around to make sure they get the best price on their flight and hotel, or their package deal.”

Notes to editors:

* Travelsupermarket compared searches from between 8pm on Saturday 1 October to 12am (midnight) on Sunday 2 October to the same period the previous week

About TravelSupermarket

TravelSupermarket is an online comparison service where customers can find the best value travel options for their needs and purchase over the internet. The website compares flights, car hire, hotels, cruise, package holidays plus dynamic packaging by searching hundreds of travel websites. The information supplied is unbiased and is designed to save the customer time and money.

The site thrives on offering its users accurate real time availability by taking information directly from suppliers such as Opodo, British Airways, Thomas Cook, First Choice, Radisson, Sol Melia, easyCar, Auto-Europe and many more, ensuring users are presented the best possible price at all times. It searches:


    • Over 650 scheduled, low cost and charter airlines from 39 individual suppliers


    • Over 200,000 individual hotels from over 42 individual hotel suppliers


    • Over 200 individual car hire providers from over 21 suppliers


  • 1,000s of individual package holidays from over 34 suppliers

Additionally, TravelSupermarket also compares prices on travel insurance and on airport car parking.

TravelSupermarket is part of the Group PLC. is a website where consumers can compare personal finance products, save money and apply online. The website has several service areas including personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, current accounts, savings accounts, motor insurance, home insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, mobile phones, broadband and shopping.

Emma Morris
[email protected]


Finding your bliss in outdoor travel

I am on my way to Milan to lead a 10-day garden tour of the great Italian gardens around lakes Maggiore, Lugano, Como and Garda.

Most of the gardens on this tour rely heavily on their context within the greater natural landscape with spectacular mountain and lake views. They were all built to take advantage of this superb “borrowed landscape” – the scenery that comes for free outside the garden. But it takes skill and intelligence to structure gardens to take maximum advantage of what Alexander Pope would have called “the genius of the place.”

If you saw the James Bond movie Casino Royale, you will have seen glimpses of the gardens at Villa Balbianello. It was the location chosen for the final scene where Bond tracks down the elusive Mr. White. It was also featured in scenes from the Star Wars movie Attack of the Clones.

A beautiful formal garden, Balbianello is located on a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of Lake Como and features some very elegant terraces.

The garden at Villa Carlotta dates back to the 1690s and contains a romantic woodland, while the terraces are loaded with lemon and orange trees.

On the outskirts of Bellagio, Villa Melzi is considered the “pearl” of Lake Como with wonderful, structural formal shrub and flower gardens that are outstanding year-round.

The next day, we start out on Lake Lugano, visiting the city that gives the lake its name as well as the eccentric, almost fantasy landscape of Parco Scherrer, built by textile baron Arthur Scherrer in the 1930s.

An amazingly eclectic work, this garden contains a world of features, including Greek temple, Venetian fountain, statues of Greek and Roman gods and heroes, a classical Renaissance garden, a Moorish garden mimicking Spain’s Alhambra, and much more.

This garden was designed to impress people with a big, global, sweeping and inclusive vision – a celebration, really, of the world of wonders from Egypt to India, Greece to Japan.

Then we head out to Lake Maggiore to visit two of my all-time favourite gardens, Isola Bella and Isola Madre, part of what is known as the Borromeo group of islands.

This is where Napoleon and Josephine spent time together, looking out from the superb 10 levels of terraces filled with exotic, tender and fragrant flowers and fruiting trees to the gently lapping blue waters of Lake Maggiore below.

The craggy rock of an island was transformed into this stunning, almost ethereal garden of delights in the mid-1600s for the Borromeo family and named by Count Carlo III after his wife, Isabella.

Isola Madre is Isola Bella’s sister island and is regarded by some garden critics as the more refined, big sister, being less theatrical and desperate to please. Both island gardens are, of course, delightful, but Madre is certainly bigger and has some special plants from North Africa, as well as wonderful climbers, orchids and other specialties.

Next, our journey will take us into the high Alps and the pretty villages of the Valtellina valley and on to the majestic Bernina Glaciers, St. Moritz and into the Dolomites, then down to Verona.

We will also stop to see Giardino Giusti, the 16thcentury garden designed by Count Agostino Giusti. This is considered one of Italy’s most famous gardens and was a must-see show garden on any 18th century Grand European Tour.

It is still a charming garden full of grace and beauty with an excellent assortment of features including an elegant avenue of pencilthin cypresses, dolphin fountain, statues of Minerva and Apollo, a grotto carved out of tufa and a maze believed to be one of the oldest in Europe. Truly a gardener’s bliss.

Greece program helps kids start businesses

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We used to joke that to belong to my family, you need to own a business. Both of my parents started their own businesses, one brother is a current business owner, and I work for myself as well.

I guess it’s no wonder that my 12-year-old twins already have the bug. In addition to the usual yard work and snow shoveling endeavors common to young boys, they have created a card game and have started selling their hand-drawn mazes.

I love their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage it at every turn. In many ways, entrepreneurialism embodies the American spirit, and I love to see both creative and business skills encouraged in young people. That’s why I’m so excited that the Greece Chamber Charitable Foundation is once again sponsoring the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

The program is open to high school students in the Greece, Hilton and Spencerport school districts and is designed to teach students how to come up with, support and launch their own businesses. Chamber President Jodie Perry says, “Our program is unique in that it is hands-on, and at the end of the program, each student will have a real and functioning business.”

The students will meet each week from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays throughout the school year from November through June at Greece Athena High School, 800 Long Pond Road. In addition to two volunteer teachers, students will have guest speakers from the local business community, field trips and an opportunity to pitch potential investors.

The tuition for the program is $195, which covers all materials, travel and expenses for the year. There are a few need-based scholarships available. Applications are due by Friday, Oct. 14, and can be found on the Chamber’s website,, by clicking on the tab labeled “Foundation.”

Questions can be directed to Jodie Perry (585) 227-7272 or [email protected]

Book sale at Henrietta library

If you’re looking to stock up on books before winter hits, The Friends of the Henrietta Public Library are holding a book sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. Hardbacks will sell for $1, and paperbacks for 25 cents. The bag sale runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, with bags of books for $3. The sale will benefit the library and will be held in the library’s community room, 455 Calkins Road in Henrietta.

Spain remains top holiday destination for Britons

During the last few days several hundred British travel agents and industry pundits have converged on Palma to gnaw over the fretful topic of consumer travel trends at the annual convention of ABTA (The Travel Association).

British holidaymakers are still flocking to Spain

There was good and not so good news. Happily for Spain-key sponsor of the event-the latest ABTA consumer travel survey drawn from a sample of 2000 Britons, clearly positioned Spain as the number one destination for holidaying families in the 35-44 year-old age bracket. Surprisingly the UK came second ahead of France, Greece and Italy. The effect of the Royal wedding and extended bank holiday weekend was cited by VisitEngland as a reason for the three per cent rise in “staycations” in the first six months of the year with the average British holidaymaker increasing their spending power by 10 per cent.

Not so cheering for travel agents and tour operators is the fact that a whopping 45 per cent of Britons are now booking holidays online, dealing directly with airlines and accommodation providers. All the same, in the last twelve months, 25 per cent of Britons –many of them in the 16-24 year-old age group-have loyally continued to book with a high street travel agent, and 28 per cent through a tour operator. A worrying one in five Britons still throws caution to the wind and forgoes holiday insurance although the survey also revealed that financial protection for holidays was of paramount importance to British holidaymakers, more in fact than getting a cheap deal.

As the recession bites deeper, it’s difficult to predict how consumers will react in terms of holiday planning and more importantly, spending. Will they favour “staycations” or continue to travel overseas?

Speaking at the convention Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s holding company, IAG, talked up air travel and robustly scorned the idea of “talking ourselves into recession.” He has a point. However bad things get, even the briefest of sunny vacations can make all the difference to morale and well being whether Britons venture abroad or stay at home for their slice of recuperation.

Surely it’s during a tough recession that weary, workaholic Britons need a break more than ever?

Find out more about Anna Nicholas here

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Brits face disruption as flights to Greece cancelled

Brits face disruption as flights to Greece cancelled

Flights to and from Greece were cancelled today because of a walkout by local air traffic controllers who joined the national 24 hour strike in protest against government cuts.

Train and ferry services were also disrupted as thousands took part in the latest strike called by members of the General Union of Greek Employees.

British Airways cancelled eight flights to and from Heathrow, while Easyjet cancelled 30 flights to destinations including Corfu, Rhodes, Heraklion and Athens. A further six Easyjet flights have been delayed until Thursday.

Ryanair cancelled a total of 16 flights from Stansted and Liverpool.

All three airlines are allowing passengers to claim a full refund or rebook for alternative dates free of charge.

Were you affected by the latest strikes in Greece? Give us your comments below.

Now check out our gallery of the world’s scariest airports, below…

Faith Travel Conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia

traveling as a faith community

Faith Travel Conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia

Oct 05, 2011

ATLANTA, Georgia – Driven by millions of Christians on compassionate care missions and spirit-lifting pilgrimage and fellowship, faith travel is a rapidly-growing sector of the American market. To provide resources to church leaders and travel agents for this expanding sector, leading travel show producer, Unicomm LLC, will present the Faith Travel Conference Expo from October 22-23 at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria.

Speakers are available for media interviews in advance of the event, as well as during the conference and expo. Among prominent names featured at the event is:

• Gigi Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and author of books including “For Women Only: Keeping Your Balance in a Changing World.”

• Vocal recording artist and songwriter Deborah Hightower, whose debut 12-song release garnered 4 Top 10 hits on inspirational radio and earned her nominations for 2007 ICM (International Creative Management) New Artist of the Year and 2007 and 2008 ICM Female Vocalist of the Year.

• Bishop Rodney Sampson, an author and entrepreneur who focuses on economic and innovative policy for the bishops and pastors he serves throughout North America, Europe, and Africa via The International Bishops Conference.

• Rev. Edward Maurice Bailey, Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest continuous African Congregation in Lancaster County – a 600 seat, Underground Railroad Freedom Quest Theater and Interactive Wax Museum with a 400-seat restaurant and cultural center.

• Diana von Glahn, TV Host, The Faithful Traveler, is the co-creator and host of The Faithful Traveler, a travel television and video series that explores Catholic shrines, places of pilgrimage, and historic and artistic sites throughout the United States.

• Mac McConnell, actor and author Founder, One Way Productions – a full-time drama ministry dedicated to spreading “Good News” dramatically with one-man Biblical dramas in churches, prisons, schools, youth camps, and “on location” in Israel, Greece, and Turkey, with over 1,000 presentations to over 1,000,000 people.

A full slate of conference speakers and their bios is posted at .

As Georgia is a growing hub for faith-based nonprofits, including megachurches and parachurch ministries, Atlanta is considered a perfect venue for this event. The focus of the Faith Travel Conference Expo will be the importance of traveling as a faith community, whether for fellowship, spiritual growth, mission work, or retreat events. The conference and expo will bring together pastors, church leaders, Christian consumers, faith-based travel agents, and travel suppliers.

“No other event focusing on faith travel combines a comprehensive conference with a diverse marketplace of tour operators and domestic and international tourist offices to help church leaders plan their next trip,” said Cindi Brodhecker, Conference Chair. “Travel is a great gift, whether a one-day excursion or a longer tour to places of interest to a church community,” she said.

Event sponsors include American Airlines, Israel Ministry of Tourism, Italian Government Tourist Board, Puerto Rico Tourism Board, Tourism Ireland, Switzerland Tourism, LifeWay Conference Centers, Ridgecrest and Glorieta, and Turkish Culture and Tourism Office. Charisma Media’s Ministry Today and Charisma are the event’s Official Media Sponsors. Fish 104.7, Atlanta Christian talk station WNIV, and Atlanta gospel station Praise 102.5 are radio sponsors. Leisure Group Travel is the event’s official group travel publication. Infinity Concepts serves as the event’s marketing partner.

Greece public sector shuts down in strike over debt crisis steps

For 24 hours Wednesday, Greece’s public sector lay in a coma.

Flights were grounded, state schools closed and government offices stopped services as tens of thousands of civil servants walked off their jobs to protest a fresh batch of brutal budget cuts and a debt crisis showing no signs of ending.

Organized by the country’s two biggest labor unions, the strike was the first since Greece’s beleaguered socialist government last month unveiled new controversial austerity measures that include more pension cuts and property tax and plans to terminate 30,000 public sector jobs by the end of the year in a desperate bid to stave off a dangerous default.

At least 15,000 protesters spilled into the streets of Athens, marching outside the nation’s sprawling Parliament, banging drums, blowing whistles and chanting, “Thieves, robbers and crooks!” Tension rose and the mostly peaceful protest was marred when stone-throwing youths bolted through the crowds, clashing with riot police outside Greece’s towering symbol of the austerity: the Finance Ministry.

At least 10 protesters were detained as security forces fired percussion grenades and tear gas to push crowds into side streets and away from public buildings. One man was seen bleeding from a head wound; two officers, pelted with chunks of balustrades, were treated for head and chest injuries, authorities in Athens said.

Protests against the austerity measures demanded by Greece’s European and International Monetary Fund creditors also swept other major cities, including Thessaloniki in the north, as the general strike paralyzed the country.

The 24-hour walkout came after the government’s said it would miss deficit-reduction targets through 2012, an acknowledgment that postponed disbursal of an $11-billlion tranche of rescue aid to Greece until November.

Without the rescue funds, Athens will be left without enough cash to pay its bills, forcing either a complex restructuring of its nearly $500-billion debt or an outright default.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos moved to ease market fear of an imminent debt default, saying Athens could pay pensions, salaries and bonds through November.

A Greek default, analysts have warned, would devastate European banks that sit on more than $60 billion of Greek government debt.

Squeezed by a deepening recession and rising unemployment rate, thousands of angry and angst-ridden Greeks have struck back at the austerity reforms, setting tax bills ablaze at demonstrations and staging sit-ins at government offices, including the Finance Ministry.

The strike Wednesday was a dramatic show of public anger over the government’s handling of the debt crisis and one more sign of how agonizing life has become for crisis-hit Greeks.

“Within two years my family has gone bust,” said Dimitris Argyriou, a 50-year-old Defense Ministry employee. “Do I care, really, if my country goes bust at this point?”

Carassava is a special correspondent.