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Vacations and forest fires: advice and action

Aug 08, 2023
3 min reading time

Rising temperatures in southern Europe are leading to significant forest fires, with nearly ten percent of the Greek island of Rhodes already engulfed in flames. But what if your planned vacation destination in particular is affected? Here are some steps to follow, based on advice from both government and insurers.

In case of forest fires or other emergencies, it is essential to first follow the guidelines of local authorities. In addition, it is advisable to heed the Foreign Ministry's travel advice.


Foreign Affairs travel advisories on forest fire

Although the Ministry's travel advisories are not mandatory, they provide valuable information. Travelers and tour operators are not necessarily required to follow this advice. The decision to go ahead or cancel a trip is in the hands of the traveler and the respective tour operator. It may happen that the government issues a yellow code for a particular region, while the tour operator decides to continue the trip. In this scenario, code yellow does not count as a valid reason for cancellation.

If you are traveling to a code red or orange country, your travel or cancellation insurance may have limited coverage. It is important to take this into account if you do decide to travel to such an area.


Cancel vacation due to risk of forest fire?

The right to cancel your vacation for any reason always exists. Nevertheless, the reason for cancellation determines whether you are entitled to compensation. An impending forest fire, on its own, is not automatically a valid reason for cancellation. In such a case, you have to pay the full travel price.


Calamity Fund

A forest fire is not always considered a valid reason for cancellation, as it is often not classified as an emergency. Only when the Calamiteitenfonds declares a coverage restriction for a particular country or region, are you entitled to a refund of the travel sum in case of cancellation. However, this depends on your travel organization's affiliation with the Calamity Fund.

In practice, travel agents often try to arrange rebookings rather than cancellations. However, you are under no obligation to agree to the proposed rebooking. Ultimately, the travel agent may cancel your booking and refund the fees already paid.


Independent on vacation?

Did you book your vacation outside a travel organization? In this case you cannot appeal to the Calamity Fund. Your travelor cancellation insurance may help, although not all calamities are covered. Read the terms and conditions of your insurance carefully. In an emergency, contact your travel or cancellation insurance company for further assistance.

Forest fires are not automatically a valid reason for cancellation. If you do go on vacation, save your travel insurance company's emergency center number in your phone. This will allow you to take quick action in emergencies.

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