Tui cancels Rhodes holidays until mid-August as fires rage

Tour operators suspend travel after Greek island is scorched

Firefighters were on Wednesday tackling a blaze near Vati on Rhodes. AFP
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Tour operator Tui has cancelled a number of holidays in parts of the Greek island of Rhodes until mid-August after wildfires led to mass evacuations.

More than 19,000 people have been moved from Rhodes after wildfires destroyed 10 per cent of the island.

The company announced it will not be operating holidays to hotels in the south of the island until August 11.

Tui, Jet2 and other airlines have cancelled outbound flights to the island until Friday.

“We will not be operating all outbound flights up to and including Friday 28 July,” Tui said in a statement.

“We will also not operate holidays for customers travelling to impacted hotels in the south of the island up to and including Friday, August 11. We will be in direct contact with you if you are due to travel to one of those hotels.

“We’re continuing to closely monitor the wildfires in Rhodes, which led to the evacuation of a number of hotels in the south of the island and have made some changes to our holiday programme in the coming days.

“We appreciate that anyone travelling to Rhodes in the near future may be concerned about their holiday, and we want to keep you updated on our plans and will be in direct contact with customers if anything changes," Tui said.

“For those travelling to the north of Rhodes from Saturday July 29, we want to reassure that hotels and resorts are fully operational and our team of Tui reps are offering their usual service.

“The safety and well-being of our customers and teams remains our top priority.”

Thousands of visitors have been forced to flee seaside hotels and homes by the fires.

Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said that wildfires have affected only a small part of the island.

“We have contacted the chamber of hoteliers and we want to see how we can bring people with holiday vouchers back,” she told Open television.

Firefighters are continuing to tackle flames on the islands of Evia and Corfu.

Two pilots were killed on Tuesday when their Canadair CL-215 plane, which was dropping water on to the flames, crashed into a hillside in Evia.

The body of a third person was also found on Evia.

“Wildfires across Greece have abated but firefighters are still operating at different spots,” a fire brigade official said.

The temperatures in Greece were set to rise on Wednesday to beyond 45ºC in some areas.

"Today is the most difficult day in terms of the heat, complicating the fight against existing fires and making new fire outbreaks more likely," fire department spokesman Ioannis Artopios told Skai radio.

Greece has battled more than 600 fires in the past 12 days, the government said on Wednesday.

It is used to summer heatwaves but is experiencing one of its longest in recent years.

Much of Mediterranean Europe and parts of northern Africa are experiencing similar heatwaves.

Italy's civil protection department has reported "extensive fires" across the south.

Firefighters spent the night battling wildfires in Sicily, one of which edged so close to Palermo airport that it was forced to shut for several hours on Tuesday morning.

In the north of Italy, a 16-year-old girl on a camping trip was among two people killed by falling trees during violent storms.

Meanwhile, dozens of firefighters were battling a wildfire near Croatia's picturesque southern city of Dubrovnik, authorities said on Wednesday, with water-bombing planes sent to help contain the blaze.

In Portugal, more than 90 people were evacuated when a wildfire erupted in the mountainous area of Cascais, a popular holiday destination near the capital Lisbon.

It had been contained by Wednesday afternoon but authorities said firefighters would remain on the ground to monitor the situation.

Updated: July 26, 2023, 1:43 PM