Families have had to cancel summer vacations to Spain and Greece without compensation, despite an exceptional heatwave that has left parts of Europe stricken with extreme temperatures and wildfires.
While the Foreign Office has issued warnings for scorching temperatures in both Spain and Greece, as wildfires raging in La Palma and near Athens, the UK government has so far not issued advice. “don’t travel”.
As a result, families do not have the right to automatically cut, cancel or change planned trips nor do travel agencies and airlines contacted by independence states that normal terms and conditions will apply.
While temporary heat records were broken in Rome and Catalonia on Tuesday, forecasters are bracing for Charon – the second heatwave in weeks, named after the deceased Greek ferryman – likely to surpass Europe’s hottest ever temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius. Sicily two years ago.
Mercury temperatures hit 45 degrees Celsius near Girona on Tuesday, as tourists and locals across the Mediterranean are subjected to 40 degrees Celsius, temperatures unable to drop below 25 degrees Celsius in many places only. overnight, increases the risk of death – with an estimated 61,000 people having died last summer in Europe alone.
However, travel companies argue that soaring temperatures in holiday hotspots are nothing new this time of year, with some British holidaymakers happily traveling to Dubai and the coast. Egypt’s Red Sea in July, where temperatures above 40C are the norm.
Under the Package Travel Regulations, travelers can cancel for a refund “if unusual and unavoidable circumstances occur in the destination or vicinity that significantly affect the package performance or the transport passengers to their destination”.
But unless authorities issue guidelines that make normal holiday activities impossible, it is difficult to know how the rule might be applied during a heatwave.
However, travelers with a travel insurance policy in which a pre-existing medical condition has been claimed may have grounds to request cancellation if they receive specific medical advice about Do not travel to a very hot location.
Areas where the European Union’s emergency response coordination center has issued a high temperature red alert currently include most of Italy, northeastern Spain, Croatia, Serbia, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro .
Reached for comment on the dilemma some travelers face this week as the majority of schools in England and Wales take summer breaks, the Foreign Office pointed out. independence with its official tips for Spain and Greece.
Mindful of current “temperature extremes”, people visiting both countries should “check with your travel provider” before traveling and “always follow the advice of the authorities.” local”, while people visiting Greece were told they could sign up for Athens’ official emergency alert system.
A Greek mayor in a bushfire-affected town said residents were “living in a nightmare” on Tuesday, as prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rushed home early from a summit in Brussels on Sunday. as hundreds of firefighters battled the eight-kilometer blaze, which broke out into a second day. erratic north wind.
With hundreds of children forced to flee summer camp on Monday, dozens of properties near Athens were ravaged by flames the next day – after rescuers freed children and retirees from their homes. them, the monks from the monastery and the horses from the stables.
Standing in the burnt-out house in Ano Lagonissi, which has been his home for 32 years, Giorgos Nikolau, 89, told Reuters of how he fled the fire with only his swimming trunks and shirt on, added: “I have nothing else, I don’t even have another pair of shoes. Nothing. I have finished.”
Authorities in Switzerland on Tuesday expressed concern that it could take weeks to completely extinguish a fire that has engulfed a mountainside, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate – as firefighters in the Canary Islands battle fighting the great fire in La Palma on Wednesday.
The extreme conditions were reflected around the world, as millions of people in the United States, Asia and Africa also faced record heat, in some cases exceeding 50C – conditions that the Scientists warn that are becoming more frequent driven by fossil fuels – the climate crisis.
According to the European Union’s climate change agency, 2021 and 2022 mark the hottest summers on record in Europe, with tourism organizations already predicting that heat could prompt lasting change. in travel habits, with many opting for cooler destinations or staying away from summer travel.
The hot weather also caused some tourists to return home early. Anita Elshoy, who left a village north of Rome with her husband for Norway a week earlier than planned, told Reuters: “I had a lot of pain in my head, legs and arms. [my] my fingers swelled up and I got more and more dizzy.”
Warning that Europe is now experiencing “temperatures that get hotter and hotter for longer periods of time each summer,” the International Red Cross’s emergency medical director Panu Saaristo told reporters in Geneva: “The heat wave is truly an invisible killer.”