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First Time in the World: Greece Offers 'Free Holiday' for 25,000 Victims of Last Year's Forest Fires

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Photo: First Time in the World: Greece Offers 'Free Holiday' for 25,000 Victims of Last Year's Forest Fires. Source: freepik
Photo: First Time in the World: Greece Offers 'Free Holiday' for 25,000 Victims of Last Year's Forest Fires. Source: freepik

Following last summer's devastating wildfires on the island of Rhodes, Greece has announced that it is compensating thousands of affected holidaymakers with free holiday trips. According to the Greek Ministry of Tourism, this is the first scheme of its kind in the world.

Last July, 25,000 tourists were forced to evacuate the popular island due to forest fires.

According to the government programme, those who stayed in hotels and were evacuated due to the fires will be able to use vouchers worth up to €500 to cover their accommodation for a week.

Around 25,000 affected holidaymakers are now eligible for compensation, which will also help to restore tourism to Rhodes.

The e-vouchers will be valid during the off-season on the island - from now until 31 May, and then again from 1 October to 15 November.

This scheme is the first of its kind in the world. It has been implemented after months of bureaucratic red tape and debate.

Speaking to The Guardian, Myron Flowers, Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Tourism, explained: "I think it has been a very difficult process, not least because we are the first country in the world to do this."

Tourism officials in Rhodes say that attendance is already strong, with more than 5,000 prospective holidaymakers already registered.

They expect even more applications for autumn dates as more people become aware of the compensation scheme.

The compensation awarded will reflect the amount evacuated travellers originally paid to tour operators and will range from €300 to €500, but it will only be available in hotels, not on Airbnbs and other private accommodation.

The initiative was introduced last August when Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced it on the British TV show Good Morning Britain, days after those stranded in Rhodes were forced to cut their trips short. Most were British tourists.

Those wishing to take advantage of the compensatory holiday should contact the Greek government through an online platform to receive "free" trips.

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