What to know if you have a holiday booked to the Greek islands

What To Know If You Have A Holiday Booked To The Greek Islands
Thousands of people have been evacuated from Rhodes, Corfu and Evia due to wildfires. Photo: PA Images
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Katie Wright, PA

Wildfires on the Greek islands of Rhodes, Corfu and Evia have caused chaos for travellers, with holidaymakers forced to evacuate and airlines chartering flights to repatriate stranded passengers.

Corfu and Evia have become the latest islands to issue evacuation orders after a six-day blaze on Rhodes meant 19,000 people had to be removed from villages and hotels.


infographic of Greece wildfires

The Rhodes fire service has warned more fires could break out, with temperatures set to reach 45 degrees.

More repatriation flights have been announced, but what should travellers know if they have a holiday booked to the Greek islands this summer?


Contacting tour operators

“If you’re not due to travel in the next week or two, don’t do anything,” Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said.

“I know lots of people will be stressed and worried and they have dependent costs related to whether that holiday goes ahead or not.

“At the moment the tour operators are, correctly, going to be prioritising the people travelling in the next couple of days.”

This could change in the near future.


“I think the tour operators will start getting their act together over the next couple of days and their emergency systems will kick into place,” Boland said.

“I would hope by the end of the week, it will become easier to get through to the tour operators.”

Tour operator bookings

planes at Gatwick airport
Photo: Alamy/PA. 


If the area you’re due to travel to is under an evacuation order, your rights in terms of cancelling or postponing your trip depend on how you booked it.

“If you’ve booked a package holiday you’re in a better position – you’ve got better protections, and generally the tour operators look after their customers a little bit better,” Boland said.

“In most cases you will have the opportunity to rebook or perhaps claim a voucher to book a holiday somewhere else. Some of the better holiday companies are allowing people to do that a week or two weeks in advance.”

Thomas Cook, for example, announced it had cancelled all holidays to Kiotari and Lardos – the areas of Rhodes most at risk – up to and including Monday, July 31st, and would be in touch to offer full refunds.


Some firms are more lenient than others when it comes to disasters like wildfires and floods.

“There are some protections in the package travel regulations that specify if extraordinary circumstances at a destination significantly affect the performance of the package then you have the right to cancel,” Boland explained.

“But if the tour operator is saying no, the way to enforce that right is likely going to be through the courts – that won’t be for everybody.”

Flights and hotel reservations

display board showing cancelled flights
Photo: Alamy/PA. 

If you arranged your holiday independently by booking flights and accommodation separately, you don’t have the same protections as with tour operators.

“It really does come down to what the airline is doing and what the hotel is doing,” Boland said.

“Most airlines are now offering, like the tour companies, the right to rebook or claim a voucher. That’s not the case with Ryanair specifically – Ryanair is operating as normal.”

easyJet said flights are still operating for customers booked to travel to or from Rhodes before July 29th, but if they would like to change their plans, customers can change the date of their flight or request a flight voucher.

With hotels, villas and rental apartments, you need to check the terms and conditions on your reservation.

“Most people who are going to Greece will have booked the hotel room through a booking platform, so you are bound by the terms of that booking platform,” Boland said.

“If the hotel cancels – and that will be taking place in some cases – you’re entitled to a refund.”

Travel insurance

sunset over Agios Gordios Bay, Corfu
Photo: Alamy/PA. 

Check your travel insurance or contact the company if you’re not sure what your policy covers.

“There will be some cover, but it won’t be great,” Boland warned. “It’s not going to cover most people and even those people it does cover, it isn’t going to cover all of their expenses.”

Insurance won’t, as a rule, make allowances for ‘disinclination to travel’.

Boland said: “You not wanting to go – despite that obviously being an incredibly sensible decision, to not travel into the centre of a natural disaster – is unlikely to be covered by travel insurance.”

However, looking forward, he is optimistic that in time the popular holiday destination will recover.

“The Rhodes economy and the Greek economy are so highly dependent, not just on tourism, but seasonal tourism.

“Once these wildfires are under control, there will be, of course, a huge effort to rebuild and to reopen things as quickly as possible. They will want tourists to come back and to get the economy back up and working again.”

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