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Greece Offers Free Holidays to Visitors Affected by Last Summer’s Wildfires

rhodes beach
.Greece offers free week-long holiday on Rhodes for those who evacuated after the fire in July 2023. Aerial view of Elli Beach and Akti Miaouli Beach, Rhodes, Greece. Credit: Narvaleos / CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Greece offers a week-long free holiday to visitors who had been affected by wildfires on the island of Rhodes last summer.

Thousands of tourists had to flee from their hotels and resorts as wildfires ravaged a big part of the island in July 2023. The uncontrollable blaze put lives in danger and destroyed properties and forest land.

In the south of the island that suffered the most, about 8,000 people, with 5,000 holiday makers from Britain alone, were told to evacuate. The total of visitors who evacuated Rhodes was 20,000.

The Greek government had decided to compensate these people by offering them a week-long holiday for free on the island in a gesture to welcome them back to Greece. It was a pledge made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the aftermath of the catastrophe.

“For all those whose holiday was cut short as a result of wildfires, the Greek government, in co-operation with local authorities, will offer one week of free holidays on Rhodes, next spring, next fall, so that we make sure they come back to the island and enjoy its natural beauty,” Mitsotakis had announced.

The compensation program is called the “Rhodes Pass” and will allow people to visit the island between March 15 and May 15, and between October 1 and November 15. The program is estimated to cost 4 million euros.

The wildfires caused damage to travel agencies as well. Travel giant TUI alone estimated that the damage from last summer’s devastating fires in Rhodes cost them 25 million euros, as around 8,000 of their customers in the south of the island were forced to leave their hotels. Rhodes represents approximately 5 percent of the TUI group’s summer schedule.

Wildfires Ravage Part of Rhodes

The July 2023 wildfires on the island of Rhodes destroyed 13,500 hectares of forest, based on calculations carried out by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Professor of Dynamic Tectonics, Applied Geology and Natural Disaster Management Efthymios Lekkas said immediate and careful action was needed to protect the burnt areas from other environmental repercussions and flooding, as well as prevent their future desertification.

He said that the forest should start to recover in about five years and stressed the danger of desertification, especially in South Rhodes where there are no forests.

Another repercussion of the destroyed forest land is the danger of flooding in the winter rains, the expert said.

The President of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides pledged that his government will finance the reforestation of the island of Rhodes, after a meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Nicosia.

The Cypriot President revealed that there has been enormous interest by private individuals and companies to help in the reforestation effort on the Greek island.


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