Efforts to restore sense of normality in the popular island destination after the wildfire
Bringing the destructive wildfire under full control and protecting human life are the two main priorities for tourism professionals on Rhodes, who are also planning for the future.
The destruction of part of the natural environment, the damage suffered by a number of accommodation facilities, as well as the fact that the wildfire has not affected any more than 10% of the island’s beds, are the facts surrounding the island’s tourism product.
All this has a common denominator, the island’s travel agents tell Kathimerini, which is the fact that cancellations of reservations on Rhodes – which last year welcomed some 2.6 million visitors – at least so far, are not many.
Therefore, as businesspeople on the island explain, in the first phase, accommodations located in areas unaffected by the fires are already adopting communication action with the aim of demonstrating that the island is a safe destination. Statements such as that of British Secretary for Housing and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations Michael Gove, that “Rhodes is safe,” and that he “would go to the island tomorrow if he had planned his vacation there” (note: he will go to Evia) contribute in this direction.
On Tuesday, TUI group head Sebastian Ebel was on the island, with the aim of sending a message of support to both foreign tourists and Greek tourism. It is estimated that the German tour operator, which has canceled flights to the island until July 28, has brought about 40,000 tourists to Rhodes this year. The question, however, is whether the tourism product on the island, which in 2022 hosted 11% of all holiday arrivals in Greece, will be affected in the short term.
“A natural disaster cannot fail to affect public opinion. However, it has been observed that when the phenomenon is completed without the existence of victims, the reputation of a destination is quickly restored,” noted Alexandros Thanos, mandated adviser of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE). He recalled that tourism in Turkey recovered within a month or two after the earthquakes last February.