Greece offers 'free' holidays to 25,000 tourists in world's first such offer

Alefkandra, Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece with cafe chairs at foreground
Alefkandra, Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece with cafe chairs at foreground -Credit:s1murg

Greece has announced a generous offer of "free" holidays for up to 25,000 tourists, predominantly from the UK, as a gesture of goodwill following the devastating Rhodes wildfires in 2023. The initiative is set to provide a welcome financial relief for Brits amidst the Cost of Living crisis.

"The scheme is up and running as the prime minister promised," confirmed Myron Flouris, the general secretary of the Greek tourism ministry, speaking to the Guardian. "It's been a very complicated process not least, I think, because we're the first country in the world to do this."

Holidaymakers who were forced to evacuate their hotels during the July fires will have the chance to claim e-vouchers valued at up to €500, which can be used to offset the cost of a week-long hotel stay. "Anyone who was staying in areas that were affected by the fires is eligible," Yannis Papavasiliou, the head of the island's hoteliers' union, explained.

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"The response has been very good and we are told will be even stronger come the autumn." He added: "It will apply only to hotels, not Airbnb-style private accommodation. At the end of the day Greece is making good on its promise to recompense all those who lost their holidays because of climate change.", reports Birmingham Live.

The Greek government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has issued a stark warning: "All of the Mediterranean is a hotspot for climate change. That, statistically, means we will have more fires and probably more floods.

"It wasn't easy ... to evacuate 25,000 visitors but we did it safely and we are very proud of the fact that we managed to confront this crisis essentially without mourning [the loss] of human life." Reflecting on the traumatic events, a British tourist shared her family's ordeal: "We thought at the time our daughter was dealing really well, but on reflection children are funny things, they're like sponges and take in everything and it doesn't come out till afterwards she doesn't want to return."

Despite the harrowing experience, the holidaymaker expressed a willingness to revisit the island, albeit with a change of scenery: "We'd probably prefer to stay elsewhere on the island to move on from the whole experience," she added, acknowledging the local efforts to welcome tourists back: "They want to encourage people back, which is nice. We'll take up the offer, and we'll spend money on the island."

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