In efforts to restore tourism to Rhodes, one of Greece’s leading tourist destinations, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered on UK television to cover the cost of weeklong holidays for those who were affected by the destructive fires last month.
“Rhodes today is more welcoming than ever; the island is back to normal,” he said live on “Good Morning Britain” on Wednesday.
“For all those whose holiday was cut short as a result of wildfires, the Greek government in cooperation with local authorities will offer one week of free holidays on Rhodes, next spring, next fall, so that we make sure they come back to the island and enjoy its natural beauty,” Mitsotakis said.
The Greek PM confirmed that the island, which was ravaged by fires for 12 days leaving behind 13,500 hectares of burned woodland, leading to the evacuation of thousands of tourists and taking a terrible toll on the island’s tourism industry, was “back to normal”.
Speaking to ITV, Mitsotakis said the fires affected 15 percent of the island, adding that authorities “understand that it caused some inconvenience for visitors”.
Meanwhile, on Rhodes last night, dozens of islanders, many of whom volunteered to put out the fires last month, held a peaceful protest calling on the government to ensure that all burnt forest areas will be reforested.
According to local newspaper I Rodiaki, they also called for immediate compensation to farmers who suffered massive losses as well as support for impacted employees and homeowners.
Protestors also urged the government to identify the mistakes and deficiencies that led to the fires and to proceed with the immediate punishment of all those responsible.
On Tuesday, Dodecanese MP and former deputy tourism minister Manos Konsolas tabled seven actions that will help regenerate Rhodes after the devastating fires last month that burnt 12.5 percent of the island’s forest.
At the same time, one of Germany’s largest papers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is condemning Mitsotakis for failing to take precautionary measures in view of extremely high temperatures and for not having visited the island yet in solidarity to those who suffered despite having received a large percentage of votes from the island in June’s elections.
“It is difficult to understand why he [Mitsotakis] has not yet visited the fire-ravaged island in solidarity. In any case, skepticism towards the central government is growing significantly in the periphery,” said FAZ.
“At least the 19,000 tourists who were saved on Rhodes by the locals will now know exactly who they owe their lives to,” the paper concludes.