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Greek island holidays conjure up idyllic images of blue domed churches set against a backdrop of pine coated hills, sunny skies and golden beaches. For many thousands, the Greek Islands conjure up images of quaint fishing ports, bustling street markets, fabulous beaches and crystal clear seas. Variety is the key to a Greek island holiday so take your pick of barely inhabited peaceful retreats to 24-hour beach parties.

Asian tiger mosquito spreads virus
Mosquito alert for visitors

Mosquito populations swell and spread disease. Those taking a holiday in Greece this year should take extra care to spray with insect repellent following warnings about the dangers of the West Nile Virus. Researchers at the UK Liverpool University say warmer summers and milder winters in the Balkans and north-west Europe has seen Asian tiger mosquito populations swell and the disease has spread in several regions of Greece in recent years. Although most people suffer no ill effects, the Nile Virus can lead to complications that result in severe symptoms, even death, in a few cases. Authorities in all regions of Crete, including Chania and Rethymnon are taking no chances this year. They are to launch control programmes in a bid to combat the virus by attacking the mosquitoes that can spread it. Medics plan to take immediate measure to protect public health on Crete, one of the biggest holiday islands in Greece. Measures include spraying stagnant water and other areas in Crete where mosquitoes breed or lay eggs. Public health pamphlets will also urge locals to reduce sites where water can stagnate, not to leave water in containers and to regularly replace water in animal troughs. The West Nile Virus is usually spread by a bite from an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. They then spread the virus to humans and to other animals. There have been no cases of the virus reported in in the UK except in those who have travelled abroad and no reported cases from visitors to the Greek Islands. There was one UK case in 2006 and another in 2007; both in people who had been on holiday in Canada. In around four out of five people known to have been infected with the virus there are no symptoms at all. Others may develop mild flu-like symptoms such as a headache and high temperature that may last a few days. If the virus does develop into a severe condition it can prove fatal. Latest estimates of fatality rates are from three to 15% of those who develop severe symptoms with the elderly being the most vulnerable. In Greece last year there were 101 recorded cases of victims suffering severe symptoms from the West Nile Virus of which which eight proved fatal. This figure is much lower that in 2010 when there were 260 reported cases and 34 deaths.

Arrivals at Kos airport are down
Greek prices drop

Greek island holiday prices drop for 2012. Prices look set to drop for a summer holiday on the Greek Islands following a fall in visitor numbers as the 2012 Greek holiday season gets under way. Bookings for Greek island holidays soared by nearly 10% in 2011, but tourism watchers say early bookings are down this year as fewer plan to take a holiday in the Greek islands in 2012. Tourist arrivals in the Greek Islands fell nearly 9% in the first quarter according to figures from the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises – a total of 5551,442 compared to 604,869 over the same period last year. Now package tour operators are pushing to cut prices in a bid to stimulate the holiday market. In Crete, Halkidiki, the Ionian islands and the Dodecanese prices for holiday hotel rooms have dropped an average 20%. Travel agents report that that several large hotel chains, forced to increase prices to cover a rise in VAT in 2011, are now being forced to offer discounts because of the lower bookings this year. Andreas Metaxas, President Hotel Association of Heraklion, Crete, says holiday package tour operators are now pressing for cuts of up to 25% on prices this summer if they are to bring back the tourists. It seems clear that holidays in Greece have been badly hit by the poor image of the country in Europe and abroad. Reports of strikes and street riots in Athens has shocked Europeans looking for rest and relaxation on a Greek island beach holiday. Locals insist that troubles are confined to the mainland, but repeated strikes by public sector workers creates fears of holidaymakers being stranded on islands by ferry and air strikes. But the Greek tourism ministry admits to a fall of 30% in British arrivals in Greece in 2012 so far. In Kefalonia, a popular Greek holiday island for Brits, holiday villa owners report bookings down nearly 40% on this time last year . Some villa owners have decided to keep holiday villas closed this year as they cannot afford the costs of staying open. In Rhodes international tourist arrivals by air in January to March dropped 54% and in Kos numbers are 40% down on 2011 with the biggest falls in arrivals from the UK and Germany.

Police battle Greek rioters in Athens
Rioters hit plans

Rioters put Greek holiday plans on hold. The torching of Athens city centre and TV images of rioters clashing with police could have had a negative impact on those think of taking a holiday in the Greek islands this year. But latest reports suggest that, for those tourists not put off by the street turmoil on the mainland, 2012 may be the time to book a Greek Island holiday. Flights to Greece are currently less than half of the prices being charged last summer and, even allowing for the time of year, the low fares look likely to continue. As Greeks brace for even harsher austerity measures, it is vital that the Greek Islands attract visitors, travel experts say. Tourism is Greece's main source of foreign revenue, worth 16% of GDP and employing nearly one fifth of the workforce. Hotel rates have plunged across the Greek Islands in 2012 as the domestic holiday market has collapsed and Greeks are desperate for foreign visitors. Corfu is one of the most popular Greek islands with UK holidaymakers and this year the average price for a hotel room is down 200% on last year. Hotel owners across the Greek Islands are reassuring tourists that Greek Island holidays will be largely unaffected by the anti-austerity protests in the capital. A travel agent said: "Some foreign visitors are afraid of what they see on TV, but this only affects Athens, not the islands." The Greek government is also trying hard to persuade foreign tourists that Greece is a safe destination for visitors. But early indications are that Greek Island hotel bookings in 2012 are down significantly. Zante hoteliers say reservations are currently 20% less than last January. They blame the Greek street protests that have been a feature of life in Athens for two years now, coupled with repeated strikes across the country. Last year, visitor numbers to the Greek Islands rose nearly 10% despite the problems, which were almost entirely confined to the mainland cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. But those making holiday plans this year will find it hard to ignore the latest violence and public disorder as the Greek government votes through yet another austerity package. Greek tourism industry watchers say it is still too early to make any forecasts of tourism trends this year. They add that many holiday package reservations are made at the last minute and can be strongly affected by the pricing policies of Greek hotels. With about 15 million foreign visitors each year, Greece and the Greek Islands is is one of Europe's top tourist destinations. It remains to be seen if it can keep attracting visitors against a background of mounting political and social unrest.

Cheaper hotel rooms across Greece
Hotel prices fall

Hotel prices fall on Greek Island holidays. Tourists are looking for cheaper Greek island holiday deals as hotel prices fall across Greece.Latest reports show the cost of holiday hotel room in many of the popular Greek islands have dropped by as much as 20%. The only Greek islands to have seen hotel room rates go up this year are the up-market Greek holiday islands of Mykonos and Santorini which have seen prices stable or slightly higher. Corfu, one of the most popular Greek islands with UK holidaymakers, has seen the biggest fall with 2012 average hotel room prices down 20% on last year. Hotel prices in Zante have fallen 12% while Crete has seen a 7% drop, according to a survey of hotel prices on nine of the major Greek island holiday destinations. On top of the country's economic problems, Greece has been troubled by waves of strikes in protest at economic austerity measures. Although mainly confined to the capital of Athens, protest strikes have resulted in cancelled flights and ferry trips to many of the Greek islands. Tourists are also concerned at the rising costs of fuel and food which has an effect on taxis fares and taverna prices. Holiday visitors to the Greek islands are highly unlikely to feel the impact of street protests in mainland cities but the negative image may have a serious effect on tourist travel plans this year. Despite the problems, Greece saw a rise of 10% in tourism last year with some islands, such as Rhodes, boasting a 20% rise in summer visitors. According to economic reports, tourism contributes about 16% of Greece's €230 billion economy and employs 746,000 people, or roughly one fifth of the country's 4.26 million workforce. With about 15 million foreign visitors to Greece and the Greek Islands each year, it is one of Europe's top destinations and accounts for 3.2 percent of total European holiday market. More than half visit Greece between July and September. About 14% of Greek Islands tourists are from Germany and 12% from the UK. Along with France, Italy and the US they are the top markets in terms of cash income.

Scuba diving in the Greek Islands
Scuba diving campaign

Campaign to boost Greek island scuba diving holidays. Greek island tourism leaders have launched a campaign to attract more on Greek island scuba diving holidays divers in 2012. A recent survey revealed around 250,000 divers chose Greek island waters for scuba diving holidays up to the end of October last year. Almost 95% of 7,500 visiting divers who responded to a questionnaire ranked the Greek Islands among their favourite scuba diving destinations in the world. Now Greek minister George Tzanakis wants tourism leaders to cash in on the soaring interest in Greek island diving holidays. He urges them to take full advantage of the relaxation in laws governing recreational diving in Greece. Now island administrations across Greece have launched a campaign to attract diving tourists The Greek Islands to the table for scuba diving holidays for three main reasons: The wealth of good diving sites. There are more than 20,000 shipwrecks on the Greek seabed, of which 6,000 have been formally recognised as sites of interest for scuba diversThe cheap costs of diving in Greece. Tourism leaders claim it coats about one-third of other diving destinations such as Malta, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Cyprus.The friendly, family atmosphere of many Greek diving holidays. Not only are many Greek Island diving clubs family owned, the families of visitor divers have plenty to enjoy on a Greek island holidays while the divers go off on expeditions for the day. Greece, says Mr Tzanakis, has an impressive 16,500 kilometres of coastline suitable for diving, while the main destinations of visiting divers being the islands of Kos, Corfu, Zante and Crete. Relaxation of diving limits in the pristine Northern Sporades waters, with 14 new designated diving spots, had created a new momentum in the Greek market for diving tourism. Diving tourists could attract even more visitors on Greek island holidays this year. According to figures from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), more than 20 million diving certificates have been issued across the world. Recent figures show 3.5 million certified divers are from Europe and of them around 800,000 travel abroad each year. It is readily apparent that "Greece has immense prospects of potentially becoming their top destination," said Mr Tzanakis.

Cruise ship launches 2012 season
Cruise ships launch new season

Cruise ships launch new Greek holiday season. International cruise firms could pump cash into major upgrades for Greek island ports in a bid to boost Greek island holidays. Cruise liner giants Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Costa, MSC and Celebrity say they are interested in funding port improvements, but only if the Greek cruise market is liberalised. It could mean major upgrades for Greek mainland ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki as well as for popular Greek holiday islands such as Rhodes and Crete. Cruise market leader MSC wants to start circular Greek Island cruises quickly, but only if the cruise sector is fully opened up to competition and security standards for tourists are improved. Restrictive practises have forced cruise companies to employ Greek crews, while passengers have been forced to stay aboard in some ports. Cruise firms are particularly interested in expanding operations in Rhodes and Crete, as these can open the door to port cruises in Africa, Turkey and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the arrival of the giant MSC cruise liner Magnifica at the port of Piraeus this week has opened this year's Greek Island cruise season. The MSC Magnifica, at 293 metres long, features 17 decks and can carry 3,200 passengers and 1,100 crew. The cruise ship has a theatre, sports hall and a retractable roof. A total of 800 cruise ships have already booked stops in Piraeus and other Greek Island ports for 2012. Last year Piraeus hosted 936 cruise ships and recorded more than 2.5 million passenger arrivals – a 35% increase on 2010.

Fanari lighthouse on Kefalonia
Greek Island weddings

Greek Island weddings get more popular. More and more young couples who take a Greek Island holidays decide that this is the place where they would like to get married. And, as travel trends forecast a rise in weddings abroad in 2012, one specialist wedding firm has announced it has become the first ever wedding company to join the ABTA travel association. Ionian Weddings, who specialise in weddings in unique locations across the Greek Islands and Cyprus, has seen a 25% rise in bookings for 2012, compared to 2011. Now, membership of ABTA means that those clients who choose a wedding holiday in the Greek Islands also get the financial protection and security that the Association offers. Jane Palikira, of Ionian Weddings said: "ABTA membership, along with impartial advice, our intimate knowledge of our wedding locations and team of experts both in the UK and on the islands, means that couples can relax and look forward to their wedding day in the knowledge that everything is taken care of." An increase in flights to the popular Greek holiday island of Kefalonia and Kos in 2012 is expected to prompt an even bigger rise in wedding bookings this year. Ionian Weddings can arrange services in unusual romantic location in Greece or Cyprus for as little as £2,500, including the ceremony, flowers, photographer, bridal car, reception, music and legal paperwork. New Greek holiday island venues for 2012 include the beautiful underground lake at Melissani and the attractive Fanari Lighthouse, both on Kefalonia and the architecturally astounding Achilleion Palace on Corfu. For couples considering a Greek island or Cyprus holiday island wedding, Ionian Weddings offers a two-hour consultation for small fee that is fully refundable on booking. The company can also offer additional services, including help with booking accommodation for the wedding party and full documentation arrangements.

patmos taverna
Greek holiday boom

Hopes for Greek island holiday boom in 2012. Greek tourism leaders are hoping that Greek island holidays continue to buck the trend in the coming year. Improved figures for Greek holiday tourism were the only bright spot in the gloomy landscape of the Greek economy in 2011. According to holiday surveys, 2011 was a year of recovery for the tourism market in Greece with the year notching up an overall increase in holiday visitors of nearly 10%. The Greek holiday islands of Kos (up 21.8%) led the way with double-digit rises also reported on Rhodes and Crete, while the Cyclades island group recorded an increase in tourist visitor numbers of 13.1%, according to a survey by Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting, in collaboration with the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels. Holiday visitors from Germany showed the biggest increases, followed by the English and Dutch. Far greater numbers from Russia and Eastern Europe are now taking holidays in the Greek islands, although they are still some way behind German and UK tourist visitors. The Bank of Greece also reported that tourists are spending more on Greek island holidays with receipts up 12.6% on 2010. Flexible pricing and a cut in VAT on accommodation for foreign tourists, are likely to have contributed to the good performance of the sector. Greece is still one of the top tourism destinations in the world despite the economic woes of 2011. Lonely Planet places Greece among its top 10 destinations and the Greek Islands were voted the best island destination in the world by Conde Nast readers in 2011. Greek island holiday tourism has shown a steady increase over the last decade – from 14.2 million visitors in 2004 to more than 17 million people in 2010. Forecasters predict that in a few years this number will reach 20 million, almost twice the country's population. The rise in tourist numbers and the evolving profile of the modern tourist will demand a shift in tourism offerings and infrastructure projects, according to experts.

Brits plan Greek holidays
Brits plan Greek holidays in 2012

Brits plan Greek holidays in 2012. Companies promoting holidays in the Greek Islands hope to cash in on plans by British holidaymakers to opt for short-haul European holidays in 2012. Latest surveys suggest Brits will look to take advantage of hard-hit Eurozone countries to make the most of their holiday spending cash next year. Despite money problems at home, survey show at least 88% of UK holidaymakers plan at least one short-haul trip abroad next year with most opting for the Greek Islands and Spain. Even the Olympics will fail to dent 2012 holiday plans, with two thirds saying the sports extravaganza will not keep them from flying out on a summer beach holiday. And with Greek holiday hotels dropping their 2012 prices in response to severe setbacks in the domestic market it looks like British travellers will look to the Greek Islands to get some of the best holiday deals next year. It follows a bumper year for holidays in the Greek Islands with visitor numbers in 2011 up 10% despite economic problems both in Britain and Greece. The holidays that look most likely to suffer are the more expensive long-haul destinations as around two thirds say they will be cutting back on high cost holidays. Worries over the state of the British economy is the biggest concern for holiday Brits in making their 2012 travel plans. Although nearly 80% of Brits plan to stay at in the UK for at least one holiday break in 2012 only 40% have no plans at all to go abroad next year – roughly the same as last year.

Thomas Cook to close shops
Cash blues for Thomas Cook

Holiday cash blues for Thomas Cook. Holiday tour operator Thomas Cook has sought to calm fears of concerned customers who have booked holidays in the Greek Islands that their bookings are safe. It comes after the holiday travel firm reached agreement with its bankers to bail it out with a £200m loans package. Shares in the holiday tour operators plunged last week after it said it was in emergency talks about increasing borrowings. The news caused some alarm in the Greek Islands tourist sector, which is a major destination for Thomas Cook. Around 500,000 tourists book hoidays to the Greek Islands each year through Thomas Cook, mostly from Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. Thomas Cook blames weak consumer confidence over political unrest in Egypt and Tunisia and the recent floods in Thailand for a drop in sales. But city analysts have shown concern at management at Thomas Cook which is to shed up to 1,000 jobs and close around 200 UK travel shops as it battles to cut its £1bn debt. A buying spree in the past few years, including the purchase of Co-op Travel, has not produced the returns it promised. A recent revamp of the Thomas Cook holiday website does not appear to have helped. Those searching for Greek Island holidays on Skopelos, for example, will need to know that the island is in the Thessaly region or they will struggle to find it at all. Only the Ionian island group is mentioned by name. Others such as Cyclades, Dodecanese and Sporades do not even figure in the new menu system. Those looking for holidays in Halkidiki will need a knowledge of Greek political geography as the popular area is lumped under Central Macedonia. Add that the Crete resort of Stalis is wrongly placed on the island of Kefalonia and that all the resorts marked as in Ithaca are actually on Kefalonia and you may wonder just what Thomas Cook is up to.

TUI wants new holiday contracts
Holiday drachma demand

Greek holiday hotels face drachma demand. Fears of a Greek withdrawal from the Euro has prompted holiday giant TUI to demand full payment in drachmas from Greek holiday hotel owners. TUI holiday contracts have had a paragraph inserted to say the tour firm reserves the right to take payment in any new Greek currency should Greece leave the Euro-zone. the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) confirmed that a number of hotel owners in Greece had received the letter from TUI asking them to sign new contracts. TUI Travel has over 200 brands including market-leading mainstream holiday companiess. They include holiday brand leaders like Thomson and First Choice as well as specialist brands such as Simply Travel and Sovereign Holidays. The new contract says ". . . where the Supplier carries on its business and the amounts set out in the Contract Details are denominated in Euros then, from the date of the Euro being replaced by the new national currency . . . any outstanding or unamortized prepayments may, at the instruction of TUI, be immediately repaid by the Supplier to TUI in the new national currency . . ." A TUI spokesman confirmed the new contract. He said: "We have to protect ourselves against these kinds of currency risks. Right now there is more than just a theoretical possibility that Greece will leave the Euro-zone." Experts warn that should Greece abandon the Euro and go back to the drachma, the new Greek currency could be worth 60% less in real terms. SETE leaders have warned its members no to sign the new contract. A spokesman said: "We have informed to the Greek tourism ministry for advice. TUI cannot pressure any hoteliers into signing this crazy contract". Fears of a withdrawal from the Euro have lifted as political leaders form a new coalition government to push through even more austerity measures. But travel firms are still worried that contracts signed now for Greek island holidays in 2012 may cost them dear if Greece leaves the Euro and the new currency collapses.

Ferries vital to tourists
Greek holiday strikes

Greek holidays end as strikes bite. It's fortunate that the Greek Island holiday season had virtually ended before the country was hit by a wave of protest strikes. And doubly fortunate as Greek holiday tourism and exports are the only sectors of the economy delivering any positive news at the moment. Latest figures show holiday visitors to Greece and the Greek islands up 10% this year bringing in a €7.7 billion boost to the country's coffers. Foreign tourist airport arrivals grew by 9.9% and in August alone revenues from holiday tourism increased by 6.5 percent. But those still on Greek Island holidays face difficult times with a 48 hour strike by government workers and with the Aegean islands cut off by a week long ferry strike. The Greek Islands will remain cut off from the mainland until Monday after the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) voted to extend a strike which began on October 17. As a result the Greek tourist industry has been dealt a late season blow with hotel owners reporting a new wave of cancellations on booked holiday reservations. The cancellations have mainly come from foreign tourists who had planned to visit Athens and other spots around the country, including the Greek Islands, in the latter half of October. Tourists are naturally worried at the serious problems with transport, triggered by multiple strikes taking place all around Greece, notably the cancellation of scheduled flights due to strike action by air traffic controllers. Greek tourism leaders have warned that images of tourists carrying luggage across Athens and through streets near airports, which made global headlines, had painted a very negative picture of Greek Island holidays. Greek hotel owners find themselves in a difficult position as they negotiate deals on 2102 Greek Island holidays with British tour operators.

Greek hotel rooms booking scam
Hotel booking scam

Greek holiday booking scam uncovered. Greek island holidaymakers have been duped out of thousands of pounds in a Greek holiday booking scam. The Greek holiday scam operated through four fake websites which claimed to be hotel booking sites and netted credit card details from would-be customers. Greek hotel owners and credit card users across the world became victims of the scams uncovered by Greek police working with Interpol. Rooms were booked at hotels and deposits taken, then bookings were cancelled at the last minute. Holidaymakers didn't find out until they arrived in Greece. The sites that were used are the following: -www.newbookingcentrals.com -www.mybookingcentrals.com -www.bookmeanhotels.com -www.yourhotelwbook.com The scam worked because bookings were actually made at genuine hotels so holidaymakers who rang hotels to check booking were told in all honesty that the rooms had been reserved. Police have warned people to be vigilant in checking out online transactions and to choose only known safe websites. There are worries that the scam could affect small Greek hotels (domatia) are family-run with a small number of rooms. They increasingly rely on the internet to attract customers for the summer holiday season for their year-round livelihood. Potential customers should be concerned if they are asked to make a deposit directly into a bank account rather than a reservation system unless they are sure they are dealing direct with the owners or with a reputable company. It is also useful when dealing with unknown websites to check out the website details on a domain search sight such as Whois.net to see where the website is registered and how long it has been in operation. Domain details for www.newbookingcentrals.com shows the site was created on April 19, 2011 and expires in 2012. It would be unwise to give cash or credit card details to a site that only been operating for a few months.

Mastichari beach on Kos
Bumper summer

Bumper summer for Greek holidays. It's been a bumper summer for Greek Islands holidays despite civil unrest and strikes on the Greek mainland. Travel experts report record numbers taking holiday in the Greek Islands in 2011 with forecasts of a 10% rise on 2010 visitors. Greek holiday islands such as Rhodes, Kos, Crete and Corfu have led the way as tourist leaders predict visitors numbers will top 21 million in 2011. Arrivals at airports on Rhodes and Corfu rose 14% in September compared to 2010, Chania Airport on Crete saw a 12.8% rise while Corfu posted a 12% increase in visitors. Five Greek island airports had more than 1 million arrivals last month, adding over 100,000 on September 2010 figures. Record arrivals by air takes the 2011 total so far to more than 16.5 million. This number rises to 21 million when cruise and ferry figures are included. Greek tourism experts calculate that tourist revenues will exceed €11 billion in 2011, up from €9.5 billion in 2010). Attracting investment in new tourism infrastructure and opening up new markets are the main points of a plan unveiled by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism this week. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Paul Geroulanos, told a meeting of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) that specific areas of investment will be aimed at growth in cruise and marine tourism with support for specific forms of tourism such as rural tourism, health and spa tourism and diving tourism. Mr Geroulanos said: 'Our first priority is to build tourism and momentum gained to bring more investment in Greece in order to attract more visitors.'

Greek Island hotel room
Greek hotel prices

Greek Island hotel prices plunge. Greek austerity measures have triggered a drop in Greek Island holiday hotel prices, according to latest reports. It makes a late Greek Island break even cheaper this year and helps offset rises in petrol and food prices. Hotel prices across Greece fell an average 7% in August with some Greek islands notching up price falls of more than 50%. The holiday price drop comes in the wake of a major fall in domestic tourism as hard hit Greeks decide to cut holiday costs this year and stay at home. Hotels have responded to empty rooms and intense competition with some major reductions in a bid to attract overseas visitors for late summer breaks. Tour companies say the average price of a double bed room in Greece is now €112 – down 7% on the same period in 2010. The biggest price drops were recorded in the popular holiday island of Mykonos where the average price of €140 is down 51% on last year. Room prices on Naxos are down 43% to an average €62 and it is a similar tale on Skopelos where a holiday double room this year costs 40% less at an average €71. The big price falls on the Greek islands have been offset, however, by price rises on the Greek mainland. An overnight holiday stay in an Athens hotel will cost 15% more than in 2010 with an average charge of €105. In Thessaloniki the cost of a hotel room has jumped 23% on last year to an average €102. The Greek island prices compare to the average cost of an overnight stay in a hotel room across Europe of €136.

Virtuoso Life magazine book
Islands voted best escape

Holidays in the Greek Islands offer 'The Most Alluring Island Escapes' in the world, according to a top travel advice network. The Greek Islands topped the poll in a survey by Virtuoso Life magazine on what tourists consider the top holiday destinations in the world. The Greek Islands beat the Hawaiian Islands, the Galapagos, French Polynesia and Bali as offering the best island escapes across the globe. Even the Caribbean and the Seychelles failed to attract as many would-be tourists as did the Greek Islands. On top of that the Greek holiday island of Santorini ranked third, behind Paris and Venice as the most romantic city destination in the world, coming ahead of Rome and Florence, according to the 'Travel Dreams' survey by Virtuoso, the leading network of luxury focused travel advisers. Responses came from nearly 14,000 readers of the network's award-winning magazine, Virtuoso Life, who were asked for their top dream holiday destinations. The Greek Isles also emerged as the top island escape for women and for single travellers aged over 50. Sailing the Mediterranean in a private yacht also came second in the 'Top Trips of a Lifetime' section, just behind 'Taking a World Cruise' as one of the most sought-after holiday adventures, and the Mediterranean features again as top of the 'Seagoing Cruise' section. The 'Travel Dreams' survey was conducted between January 1 and March 31, 2011, and yielded nearly 14,000 responses from magazine readers. Please visit www.VirtuosoLife.com to see the survey results featured in a recent issue of Virtuoso Life magazine. The poll finding come as the number tourists taking Greek Island holidays in 2011 rose 9.95% on last year year's figures. The Greek holiday islands of Rhodes and Kos are leading the way with a 30% rise in arrivals this year.

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