Tour operators remain unconcerned by Greek wildfires

The wildfires that swept Greece and threatened Athens have had little effect on tourism, tour operators have reported.

The fires began on August 22 and destroyed 50,000 acres of woodlands, farms and olive groves. They were brought largely under control on August 24 when about 20 aircraft and helicopters dropped 14,000 tons of water on them.

At their peak, about 2,000 firefighters and soldiers were tackling the blazes, which threatened a number of important archaeological sites on the mainland. About 10,000 people were evacuated from Athens suburb, Agios Stefanos.

However, the fires have had little effect on tourism to the country, largely because they have been on the mainland, far away from the islands, which are popular with tourists at this time of year.

Allbury Travel Group product and aviation manager Chris Constantinou said: “We don’t have any customers in the region.

“There are fires [on Zante and Skyros] but they are not judged to be out of control.

“People are far more educated now, they can differentiate between the Greek islands and the mainland, and the fires aren’t anything new.”

Constantinou said Greece had performed well this year with sales stronger than in 2008. He said the demand had prompted the operator to add two additional weekly flights to Crete, doubling the capacity. A fourth weekly flight has also been added to Corfu.

Olympic Holidays runs a small Athens programme, but there are no customers currently on the tour.

Commercial director Photis Lambrianides said: “I didn’t expect the fires to have any impact on tourism to the region.”

While Lambrianides would not reveal how the operator had performed this year, he said it had been forced to discount – holidays were sold about £10 cheaper than the average selling price of £380 per person last year.

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