Home Travel Greece wildfires: Is it safe to travel to Corfu, Zante and Rhodes right now?

Greece wildfires: Is it safe to travel to Corfu, Zante and Rhodes right now?

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Greece wildfires: Is it safe to travel to Corfu, Zante and Rhodes right now?

UK holiday companies have put packages to Rhodes back on sale from the weekend, despite the wildfires that have seen thousands of tourists evacuated from the island.

The UK’s two biggest tour operators, Jet2 and Tui, have cancelled all flights and holidays to Rhodes over the past few days. They are offering refunds because of the fires, which have been raging on the Greek island for six days.

Tui will resume package holidays to most of Rhodes on Saturday 29 July, while Jet2 restarts on Monday 31 July

The travel firm Thomas Cook has been sending holidaymakers to the island throughout the week, though it adds: “Customers travelling this Friday, Saturday and Sunday can choose to travel as planned or amend their holiday. If they wished to cancel, they will receive a full refund.”

Dozens of flights have brought thousands of British tourists home. It is believed that everyone who wanted to come back early from their trip has done so.

Thousands of holidaymakers were forced to flee resorts on Saturday 22 July, with some British tourists describing “terrifying” scenes of turmoil as power cuts caused “chaos” on the island.

In previous days the wildfire was confined to the island’s mountainous centre, but aided by winds, very high temperatures and dry conditions, it spread on Saturday towards the coast on the island’s central-eastern side.

But the northern part of the island has been running largely as normal, albeit with extra pressure on the infrastructure due to large numbers of tourists fleeing for safety and seeking to find flights home.

Holidaymakers were evacuated from their hotels and left their belongings behind

(AP)

Rhodes airport is on the northwestern shore of the Greek island, close to the capital, Rhodes Town. With no imminent danger in that area, some airlines have been operating a “business as usual” policy, with normal terms applying.

But most have provided provide some options to customers, with package holidaymakers benefiting from extra protection.

The Foreign Office advises travellers to contact their airline or travel operator. For 24/7 British consular assistance, UK citizens abroad can call +44 20 7008 5000.

Thousands of tourists have been evacuated

(AP)

The FCDO has also sent a Rapid Deployment Team to Rhodes to support British nationals, and the Greek Foreign Affairs ministry has set up a help desk at Rhodes airport.

I came home early. Will I get some or all of my money back?

People who were anxious about being on the island but whose holidays were not directly affected are unlikely to be offered any recompense for the lost holiday times.

Package holidaymakers whose trips are curtailed because their accommodation cannot be used are due a partial refund under the Package Travel Regulations.

Travellers with easyJet Holidays are told: “Customers who we have brought back to the UK earlier than their booked return date will receive a pro-rata refund for the days of the hotel stay that were missed.” If a £1,000 holiday that was expected to last two weeks ended halfway through, the refund will be £500 from easyJet Holidays.

But other operators may not be as generous.

If a two-week holiday that cost £1,000 per person ends a week early, the holiday company is entitled to subtract the value of the flights, which might be £400 – meaning only half of the remainder will be refunded, ie £300.

I am booked to travel imminently to Rhodes. Can I cancel for a refund?

If the travel firm or airline cancels your trip you can expect a full refund within two weeks. If the flight is going ahead, then your rights may depend on whether you are on a proper package holiday or have booked flights and accommodation separately.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, holidaymakers can cancel for a refund “if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occur at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity which significantly affect the performance of the package or the carriage of passengers to the destination”.

In the case of some parts of Rhodes, this looks like reasonable grounds to cancel.

These are the larger companies’ policies for imminent departures as of 10pm on Thursday 27 July.

  • easyJet Holidays: Trips will resume on Sunday 30 July. Some flexibility may be offered for customers who wish to defer their trips., All holidays to the resorts of Gennadi, Kiotari and Lahania are cancelled up to and including 10 August 2023
  • Jet2: all flights and holidays to Rhodes are cancelled up to and including Sunday 30 July, with full refunds offered. From Monday 31 July, normal terms and conditions apply for trips to northern Rhodes, where “hotels, villas, and resorts are operating as normal”. This includes the resrts of Faliraki, Ialyssos, Ixia, Kalithea, Kolymbia, Kremasti, Pastida, Rhodes Town and Theologos. The resorts of Lardos, Lindos, Kalathos and Pefkos are also operating “as normal” according to Jet2, which sent customer service and safety experts to all the hotels in these resorts “to conduct rigorous and detailed assessments”. Three resorts remain on Jet2’s “no-go” list up to and including 13 August: Gennadi, Kiotari and Lachania
  • Ryanair: “Flights to/from Rhodes Airport are currently operating as normal and unaffected by the forest fires. Please check your Ryanair app where you will be notified of any changes to your Ryanair flight.”
  • Thomas Cook: “All of our holidays to the island outside of the limited affected areas will resume from Monday 31 July in full. Customers travelling this Friday, Saturday and Sunday [28-30 July] can choose to travel as planned or amend their holiday. If they wished to cancel, they will receive a full refund.” Holidaymaker booked to travel to the affected area around Kiatori up to 7 August are offered full refunds.
  • Tui: All outbound flights to Rhodes up to and including Friday 28 July are cancelled, but normal service resumes on Saturday 29 July. Anyone booked to Rhodes on Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 July can cancel for a full refund. After that, usual terms apply for holidays in the north of the island, For trips to the south of the island due to depart up to and including 11 August, full refunds are available. “Customers travelling to hotels in the south of the island between 12 and 21 August can amend fee free,” the company says.

Would you go to Rhodes?

Yes. The people of Rhodes have shown outstanding kindness and courage towards overseas tourists. In most parts of the island – and 90 per cent is unaffected – they want to get back to work delivering great experiences for visiting holidaymakers.

If I go to Rhodes, will my travel insurance be valid?

Yes, except in very narrow circumstances. When a calamity such as the awful wildfires in Rhodes occurs, it is standard practice for travel insurers to partially remove some cover – but only for trips booked after the situation becomes known and only for risks specifically associated with the event.

For example, you should be able happily to book any trip to Rhodes and expect cover as part of your annual policy – except for risks directly associated with the wildfires. Were you unwise enough to venture into the afflicted area and injure yourself, you would not be covered.

Otherwise, despite a rogue message from Admiral Insurance wrongly saying all cover for Greek holidays booked after 23 July would be suspended – since corrected – there should be no problem.

#Greece #wildfires #safe #travel #Corfu #Zante #Rhodes

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