Jess Bailey, a Devon councillor on vacation with her family in Rhodes, has raised concerns and requested explanations from Tui, stating that the travel company flew them out of the island during the raging wildfires.
Ms Bailey, her husband, and their two daughters, ages 11 and 15, had flown from Bristol Airport on Saturday evening, arriving in Rhodes more than 24 hours after the forest fire had spread to the resorts of Kiotari and Lardos.
When they arrived in Rhodes about 10 p.m., they were faced with “chaos” at the airport, as evacuated tourists gathered there, waiting for emergency flights back home.
Tourists trapped in the chaos have already recounted how they were compelled to evacuate their hotels, abandoning their belongings, and, in some cases, finding themselves without money or passports.
Ms Bailey told Devon Live: “After a lot of hanging around we were brought to the evacuation centre. There were loads of other Tui flights all arriving around the same time from Luton, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow.
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“Why did TUI fly us and hundreds of other people in when hotels are cut off by wildfires? We spent the night with hundreds/ thousands of Brits in Rhodes evacuation centre and I didn’t sleep a wink.
“We have had totally useless communication from TUI. They emailed at 4.30am saying, ‘you may be experiencing some delays at the airport’, and that I can source my own transport to our hotel.”
She added: “How can I do that when the road is closed due to fires and like hundreds of others I’m at an evacuation centre? There are still masses of people in the evacuation centres at the Rhodes Basketball Arena and School.
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“No one knows what’s going on and the TUI reps who turned up an hour ago didn’t have a clue either. People are just sitting around on blow-up mattresses on the floor and generally milling around without any idea of what is happening.
“Thank goodness for the local volunteers who have been incredibly helpful. But there’s no getting away from the fact it’s chaos and TUI should never have flown us into this mess. They have been appalling.”
Following the Bailey family’s flight, Tui has now suspended all outbound flights to Rhodes until Tuesday, leaving people awaiting further updates regarding the wildfire situation.
A spokesperson for the holiday firm said: “We’re continuing to closely monitor the wildfires in Rhodes which have led to the evacuation of a number of hotels in the south of the island.
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“We appreciate how distressing and difficult it is for customers who have been evacuated and ask they follow the advice of the local authorities who are managing tourist movements in impacted areas.
“Our resort teams are doing everything they can to support customers, working closely with the relevant authorities. We have cancelled all outbound flights to Rhodes up to and including Tuesday, and passengers due to travel on Wednesday will be offered a fee free amend to another holiday.
“Those customers currently in Rhodes will return on their intended flight home. The safety and well-being of our customers and teams remains our top priority.”
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