The authorities have evacuated tourists from the areas affected by the wildfires on Rhodes. The FCCA Consumer Advisory Services has received questions about cancelling trips.
If you need personal instructions, contact the Consumer Advisory Services.
The FCCA monitors the situation and answers topical questions posed to the Consumer Advisory Services.
Both the tour operator and the traveller can cancel a holiday because of unavoidable and exceptional circumstances prevailing in the destination or its immediate vicinity.
For example, such conditions prevail if the holiday cannot be realised as agreed because of natural disasters in the destination or without risking the traveller’s health.
The traveller always has the right to cancel a travel package, but usually has to pay a cancellation fee for cancelling. If the holiday has to be cancelled because of exceptional circumstances, a travel package can be cancelled without charge.
If it is not possible to organise the holiday due to the situation in the destination country, the tour operator usually cancels the holiday, in which case you will always be entitled to a refund. Therefore, it is usually not necessary to cancel the holiday yourself. The traveller must be informed of the cancellation without undue delay before the start of the holiday.
Cancellations of holidays are assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, the assessment may be affected by the authorities’ travel recommendations concerning the area. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ travel advice of 23 July 2023 does not advice to avoid travelling to Rhodes, except for the actual wildfire areas. The situation on Rhodes may change fast.
The consumer’s right to cancel or reschedule their flight is not written into legislation; instead, the refunds are assessed in the light of the general terms and conditions and ticket terms for the company in question, the practices adopted in these exceptional circumstances, and assessments of what is reasonable.
The option of cancelling a hotel you have booked yourself is only guaranteed if the hotel’s cancellation policy allows for this. You can negotiate any refunds with your hotel. If the cancellation terms are unfair, they can be adjusted to be more reasonable for the consumer.
In this case, consideration must be given to what is meant by immediate vicinity and how extensive the area in question is. The right to cancel does not necessary apply to the whole island. However, the situation may change fast.
A responsible tour operator cancels the holiday if there is a risk that the safety of the travellers will be endangered. Primarily, you should wait and see what the tour operator does in the situation. The travel dates are also significant. If there is still time before your holiday, you should monitor the situation and see how it develops.
There is a defect in the travel services if they do not correspond to what has been agreed. Liability for defects arises even if the defect is caused by exceptional circumstances. The tour operator must make efforts to rectify the defect at the destination and if necessary or where possible, arrange alternative services that must be at least of the same standard.
In the situation caused by the wildfires on Rhodes, the tour operator may have limited possibilities to rectify the defect or offer alternative services.
The consumer is entitled to a price reduction, for example, if the holiday becomes shorter than agreed or if the organised accommodation does not correspond to the contract. However, if the defect has been caused by reasons beyond the tour operator’s control, the consumer will not be entitled to compensation for damages, for example.
If the airline cancels the flight, the passenger can choose between the refund of the ticket price and a rerouting at a later time.
Depending on the reason for the cancellation, you may be entitled to standard compensation and compensation for damages. The airline does not need to pay compensation if it is able to show that the cancellation of the flight was the result of exceptional circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. If the reason for the cancellation of the flight is a natural disaster such as a wildfire, the airline is usually not liable for compensation.
Under law, the tour operator must return the money within 14 days of the cancellation of the contract. If you have cancelled a flight that you have booked independently and choose a refund of the ticket price, the airline must refund the price you have paid within seven days.