Greece offers free week for tourists who fled fires

AP , Wednesday 2 Aug 2023

Tourists who had to flee wildfires on Greece's Rhodes Island can return for a free week next year, the prime minister said Wednesday.

Tourists take photographs during sunset in the city of Nafplion, southern Greece, on July 31, 2023.AFP


Fed by scorching temperatures, dry conditions and strong winds, a two-week inferno sparked chaos at the peak of Greece's busy summer tourist season.

Tens of thousands of visitors and locals fled from hotels and villages on Rhodes and hundreds more were evacuated in Corfu and other areas.

"The Greek government will offer one week of free holiday on Rhodes next spring or fall for all of those whose holiday was cut short due to the wildfires," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Britain's ITV channel.

The fires killed at least five people in Greece and scorched nearly 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres), according to the Athens Observatory.

Travel giant TUI and Britain's low-cost Jet2 suspended passenger flights to Rhodes and flew in empty planes to evacuate tourists.

Greek travel agents have launched a "Rhodes is safe" campaign to lure back holidaymakers.

"Rhodes today is more welcoming than ever, the island is back to normal," the prime minister told ITV.

TUI resumed flights to the island last week.

For more than 10 days last month, Greece sweltered under what some experts say is its longest July heatwave recorded in decades.

Temperatures hit 46 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit) but have since dropped.

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