The wildfire that has been raging on the island of Rhodes for more than six days is a major blow to the tourism of Rhodes – one of the top tourist destinations of the country – but also to Greek tourism as a whole.
Economic disaster for the island of Rhodes seems inevitable, as visitors realize that it is practically impossible to spend their summer holidays in places with scorching temperatures and fires burning, and travel agencies are revising their plans. It is worth noting that tourist arrivals at the island’s airport were at record levels in June and Rhodes was expected to record an even better performance this year compared with last year.
So far, a total of 8,000 tourists out of 200,000 on the island have been removed from their hotels due to the fires raging out of control. The operation was carried out under adverse conditions amid strong winds and flames exceeding 5 meters in height.
This was the largest ever evacuation operation with tourists being transferred to safe places. According to the first estimates of the Police, a precautionary evacuation of around 19,000 people took place. 16,000 were transported by land and 3,000 by sea.
As a Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) official told “Naftemporiki”, it is too early to make any estimates, it will take some time for the valuation to become substantial and to see whether the effects will be medium or long-term. However, it should be pointed out that there is no human loss and the majority of tourists speak positively about Greek hospitality and solidarity, but also about the state mechanism that worked quickly, while they express complaints about their tourist agencies.
It is noted that, on the rest of the island, life continues without major problems. So all airlines excluding Jet2 and TUI, such as British Airways, are still planning flights to Rhodes this week.