Greece is yet again capturing headlines this week as another heatwave and wildfires rage on in the country.
According to the Associated Press, evacuation orders have been issued on the islands of Corfu and Evia because of summer wildfires across the country. The most intense of these continue to burn on the island of Rhodes, which is not one of the country's main tourist destinations. Authorities have said more than 20,000 people have already been evacuated from the island.
At the same time, temperatures on Tuesday have pushed back up over 100 F across Greece, marking the third successive heat wave for residents of the country and tourists visiting the islands. High temperatures are expected to continue into Wednesday, before cooling off on Thursday, providing some relief.
Here’s how the situation might be affecting travel:
The U.S. Embassy in Greece currently has an advisory up specifically for the wildfires in Rhodes and the effect they could have on other islands.
“The U.S. Mission in Greece alerts U.S. citizens to ongoing wildfires on the island Rhodes, and high risk of wildfires in many regions of Greece. U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution in affected areas. Civil Protection authorities are coordinating evacuations from the affected areas. Wildfires may create additional disruptions in the wider areas,” the advisory reads.
Some international travel companies, including Thomas Cook and EasyJet in the U.K., have evacuated tourists from Rhodes and have warned future travelers to the area that it is not safe to visit.
Elsewhere, the Acropolis in Athens, one of the most popular tourist sites in the country, was closed again on Tuesday afternoon as authorities continue to deal with the high heat.
Other travel companies talking to TMR said their guests aren’t feeling an impact yet. That includes Casa Cook Rhodes, a beach resort in Kolimbia, which told TMR that it is in full operation and the fires are not affecting the hotel at all.
It also includes Celestyal Cruises, which sails exclusively around Greece and in the Mediterranean. Celestyal, in a statement on Tuesday, told TMR that it is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with local representatives, the authorities, and trade partners, but has yet to make any changes.
“The company confirms that Celestyal Olympia's scheduled call to the island of Rhodes with the 4-night ‘Iconic Aegean’ itinerary has not been impacted and continues as planned, reassuring passengers, who have made individual or group reservations, that it will make every effort to ensure a seamlessly enjoyable cruise experience with safety remaining the company's top priority,” it said.
For those already in Greece, Visit Greece has put together a Q and A for those that need help with evacuation or emergency response, including contacting an embassy.
Minos Agnos, the president of Travelive and a T+L A List Member, told TMR on Tuesday that the agency has had “a lot of calls and emails with concern from clients regarding the heat and wildfires in Greece.”
However, even with the concern, none of Agnos’ clients have been affected and no destination plans have needed to be updated so far, other than changing the timing of some tours or adding vehicles.
“Many of the hotels are located away from the more central areas that we typically book American clients. We have been showing them the locations of the fires along with the locations of their properties along with the air quality reports,” she said.
“As this is limited to parts of Rhodes and Corfu, guests traveling on the mainland and other islands have not seen any effect from wildfires or regarding air quality.”
Stella Hofer, the director of customer support at Travelive, said that once clients are aware that where they are staying is unaffected, the concerns tend to stop.
“The wildfires are of course happening in densely forested areas of various islands such as Rhodes, Corfu, and Evia – here, they are remote and far removed from the major towns where our clients are staying. For example, Rhodes Town (Old City) remains outside the affected area and our clients did not evacuate,” she said, adding that it is important to note that the “popular destinations of Athens and the Cycladic Islands (these are very dry locations) are totally unaffected as well.”
Another advisor who specializes in Greece, Scott Grody of Scott Grody Travel, told TMR that “Other than tourists that are in the country now there have been no disruptions for future travel to Rhodes or Corfu or other islands that might become impacted.”
He added that there has been no impact on future plans for Greece, either.
“Despite the global heat wave clients are still traveling or making plans to travel to Greece,” he added.