Wildfires on the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu have left thousands of travelers stranded.
As of Sunday, around 19,000 people living in villages and resorts on Rhodes had been evacuated as wildfires spread across the island. local media Ellada 24 described the operation as the largest fire evacuation ever carried out in the country. Corfu saw around 2,400 people evacuated.
It is estimated that around 10,000 British tourists are currently stranded in Rhodes.
The General Secretariat of Civil Protection in Greece has announced a category 4 (very high risk) alarm for many areas based on its Daily fire risk map. According to U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece“a high fire risk is expected to persist in the coming days.”
Several travel agencies and airlines, including Tui and Thomas Cook, have reportedly canceled their planned trips to Rhodes, according to The Guardian.
So far, two rescue flights operated by EasyJet have repatriated 421 people to the UK, with a third flight planned for Tuesday. Three repatriation flights operated by You are scheduled for Monday evening.
Despite the current situation on the ground, many airlines continue to sell flights with immediate departures from Monday morning.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re currently stuck in Rhodes or Corfu, or if you’re planning to visit the Greek islands in the coming days and weeks.
Can I still travel to Rhodes and Corfu?
Airlines continue to fly to and from Rhodes and Corfu and as the situation stands, most trips and flights to Greece continue.
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THE British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has not yet advised people to avoid traveling to Rhodes or Corfu, although it warns of “active forest fires in Greece”.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programOlga Kefalogianni, Greece’s tourism minister, said tourists could still travel to Rhodes.
“There has been no disruption at the airport and I think it is particularly important to emphasize that only a small part of the island of Rhodes is affected,” Kefalogianni said.
What is the government’s current travel advice?
While not advising against travel to the affected Greek islands, the UK Foreign Office urged travelers to check with their tour operator or hotel before traveling.
“If you are planning to travel to Rhodes, please check with your tour operator or hotel, before your trip, that the area you plan to visit is not affected by the current wildfires,” the ministry said . FCDO said.
THE United States Embassy and Consulate in Greece advised U.S. citizens living or traveling near the affected area to “exercise extreme caution” and “follow the instructions of local authorities and closely monitor local media and emergency alerts” .
What are airlines and travel agencies saying?
So far, several airlines have canceled their flights to Rhodes; others offer passengers the opportunity to change their current flight for free.
The British national carrier allows travelers currently in Rhodes or Corfu to change their flight free of charge if they need to return home early. All passengers scheduled to travel between now and Sunday can also change their flight to a later date free of charge.
The popular budget airline has canceled its package holiday bookings to Rhodes until August 1. However, flights to Rhodes and Corfu are operating normally. Passengers who have booked travel to or from Rhodes by Saturday can transfer their flight to a new date or request a flight voucher.
All flights are currently operating normally.
All flights and holidays to Rhodes have been canceled until July 31. The airline says affected customers have been contacted regarding “refund and rebooking options.”
All flights to Rhodes are canceled until Tuesday. Passengers scheduled to fly Wednesday can change or cancel their trip at no additional cost. Travelers who need to visit hotels or affected areas in Corfu have been informed that they will not be able to do so on Monday and Tuesday.
All travelers staying at Tui Blue Atlantica Nissaki Beach, Pantokrator, Golden Mare, La Riviera or Nautilus hotels are advised not to travel on Monday or Tuesday.
The holiday company has canceled its trips to affected areas of Rhodes until July 31. She contacted her customers to arrange partial and full refunds.
How can I get help if I’m stuck in Rhodes or Corfu?
The Greek government has set up a crisis management unit to help you if you are stranded and need help.
Residents of the United States and United Kingdom can contact the unit at the numbers below:
- +30 210-368-1730
- +30 210-368-1259
- +30 210-368-1350
“If you are a British national affected by wildfires, please follow the instructions of the emergency services. Call the Greek emergency services on 112 if you are in immediate danger,” the ministry said. United Kingdom Foreign Office also advises.
To contact UK Consular Assistance, call +4420 2008 5000. This line is operated 24/7.
For Guidance from the U.S. Consulate or Embassycall +30 210-729-4444.
Does my travel insurance cover wildfires?
In most cases, it is unlikely that your insurance coverage will offer a specific clause for wildfires. Additionally, governments have not yet advised people not to travel, so it is unlikely that you will be able to claim your insurance without a specific clause.
Insurance claims may be valid if your country’s government changes its advice and asks people not to travel.
That said, it depends on the insurance policy you have. In some cases, people with reported health conditions or those who become ill from wildfires may be able to make a claim, regardless of their government’s travel advisories.
As always, when it comes to insurance matters, we recommend reading the fine print of your policy to clearly understand the intricacies of what it may cover.
Can I get a refund for my vacation if I return home early?
It’s possible, although it will depend entirely on where you’ve booked your stay, what conditions you’re leaving on and how you’ve booked your holiday.
If you are traveling as part of a package and are forced to return home early due to wildfires, you may not be eligible for a full refund, but may receive a partial refund. This is because flight costs will be taken into account and deducted from any refund, as you would still be traveling on outbound and return flights. However, this may vary between package providers and you should contact the company you booked with for clarity.
If you booked directly with your accommodation provider and need to end your stay early, refund policies will be specific to the hotel or rental you booked with.
Can I still return home if I lost my passport during the evacuation?
If you have been evacuated from Rhodes or Corfu and have not been able to recover your passport before, don’t worry.
In this case, you must contact the Greek authorities. Or, if you are resident in the UK, contact British Consular Assistance on +4420 2008 5000. This line is operated 24/7 and should be able to help you arrange temporary travel documents, which will be accepted on your return flight.
Can I cancel an upcoming trip?
This will depend on the conditions set by the company you booked your trip with. If the accommodation you were scheduled to stay in was affected by the fires, your trip may have already been canceled.
However, you might have difficulty if you are not due to visit an area affected by wildfires but want to cancel your vacation preemptively. We advise you to contact your package provider or hotel in both cases.
If you booked your flights and accommodation separately, you should receive a full refund of your plane ticket if the flight is canceled. However, you will need to contact your hotel to find out your accommodation reimbursement options.
If your trip was canceled due to government authorities, local or your home government, restricting travel in the area, you should be entitled to a refund.
Forest fires in Greece have disrupted the holidays of thousands of travelers in Rhodes and Corfu. The worst affected area currently appears to be Rhodes.
British and Greek authorities are not currently advising people to avoid traveling to these Greek islands, but are recommending caution. Some airlines allow travelers to rebook their next outbound flights for later dates or change their return flights earlier if necessary.
If you are currently in Rhodes or Corfu and need assistanceyou can contact the crisis management unit set up by the Greek government at the following address:
- +30 210-368-1730
- +30 210-368-1259
- +30 210-368-1350
If you urgently need Greek emergency servicesyou can reach them at 112.
To contact British consular assistancecall +4420 2008 5000.
For Guidance from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, call +(30)(210) 729-4444.