Airlines and tour operators have been branded “irresponsible” for continuing to fly Britons out to fire-ravaged resorts on Greek islands where close to 20,000 people have been forced to flee.
Campaigners said travel firms had failed holidaymakers after sending flights over the weekend without offering refunds or the chance to re-book.
Britons have described being forced to flee to evacuation centres shortly after arriving at their hotels.
Rory, Boland, Which? travel editor, told i: “There were instances over the weekend, where tour operators did not act responsibly.
“Flying people in when they knew there was a national emergency, they knew hotels that these people were travelling to were closing , and they ended up immediately in evacuation centres.
“That is deeply irresponsible, because you’re not only ruining those people’s holidays needlessly, they could have been told before they went and not travelled.”
He added: “If tour operators can’t act responsibly – and it it does seem to have got better over the last kind of 12 hours or so – then that FCDO advice should change.”
Mr Boland specifically criticised budget carrier Ryanair for not offering rebookings or refunds.
He said: “That strikes me as deeply irresponsible, because really what you’re saying to people is either you travel into this area of national disaster, you place more stretch on the resources or the resources of the authorities to air or we keep your money.
“I think you’d be crazy to travel to those islands at the moment. They are in the middle of a huge natural disaster. It’s not clear what the situation will be in a week, in two weeks.”
Airlines and travel operators were likely to have been in close contact with Greek authorities who may not have requested that they stop flights, he added.
Tui, Jet2 and easyJet have axed all flights to Rhodes until the weekend but British Airways and Ryanair continue to operate flights to the island.
The Government has faced demands to change its travel advice to warn tourists not to travel as the Foreign Office scrambled a rapid deployment team to Rhodes, where an estimated 10,000 Britons have been caught up in the crisis.
Abta, a trade association for UK travel agents and tour operators, pointed out some resorts have had their evacuation orders lifted with people advised that they can return to the resorts of Lindos, Pefkos and Kalathos.
But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned there were “three difficult days ahead of us” before forecasters expect the temperature to drop in Rhodes.
Package holidays to areas under evacuation orders after wildfires spread through Rhodes were still being offered by some airlines on Monday.
easyJet was advertising holidays to the town Lindos on Rhodes for 1 August – including stays at the Lindos Imperial Resort & Spa, which has been badly damaged by flames.
Knock-down prices for holidays to the Greek island were also being advertised by other operators on Monday, including seven nights with Tui from Saturday in Kiotari, where it was reported three hotels were badly damaged by fire, at £1,878 per person with a £648 discount for each person travelling.
Mercy flights to rescue stranded tourists from the UK were dispatched to Rhodes on Sunday and Monday, but some were returning half empty.
The Greek transport ministry said more than 2,000 tourists, mainly from Britain, had been repatriated since Sunday.
Greece’s tourism minister, Olga Kefalogianni, insisted people should not cancel bookings for Corfu or Rhodes, stressing that only a small part of the island was affected.
Tui, which originally cancelled all flights to Rhodes until Tuesday, announced on Monday it was scrapping all outgoing flights until Friday.
Jet2holidays cancelled its trips until next Sunday and was sending three repatriation flights with space for 600 passengers, the first of which landed at Leeds Bradford late on Sunday evening with 95 people onboard despite having space for almost 200.
easyJet said it has cancelled package holidays departing until Saturday and is contacting passengers due to travel to Rhodes up to 10 August to discuss their options.
Meanwhile, nervous holidaymakers said they were reconsidering taking a break on the island in the wake of the chaotic scenes.
Hannah Martin, 40, Lancashire, is due to stay in Kiotari from 4 August after booking a £5,000 holiday with Jet 2 with her partner and their three sons.
But after seeing photos of damage to the hotel she now says she doesn’t want to travel and wants a refund instead as she feels “very uneasy” about going to the area with her children.
“Jet 2 have taken the hotel off sale from their website yesterday morning with no availability at all this year or next so they must know the damage,” she told i.
“I have seen several photos on Twitter of the damage and received a message from a guest who was there to say a restaurant, shop and entrance had been destroyed and the area is severely burnt.
“I do think it would be unfair to send holidaymakers to the affected villages for several weeks/months to come, putting strain on their infrastructure, using their water and electricity whilst they still fight fires and rebuild themselves.”
Andrew and Emily Brittan, from Tamworth, flew to Rhodes for a cousin’s wedding on Saturday.
They were due to go on their honeymoon afterwards to Pefkos after getting married earlier this year, but were taken by coach to an evacuation camp instead
One passenger tweeted the situation was a “disgrace” after refusing to fly from Stansted to Rhodes on Saturday because Tui refused assurances before finding out their hotel was evacuated at 9pm that night.
An easyJet spokesperson said: “easyJet holidays has cancelled package holidays to impacted resorts in Rhodes departing up to and including 29 July and has proactively contacted impacted customers.
“We are in contact with our impacted customers in resort to help them return to the UK at the earliest opportunity. We are also contacting customers due to travel to the impacted resorts in Rhodes up to 10 August to discuss their options.”
An Abta spokesperson said: “Abta is continuing to work with members to support customers affected by the wildfires in Rhodes. We understand that some of the resorts have had their evacuation order removed by the Greek authorities and people have been advised that they can return to the resorts of Lindos, Pefkos and Kalathos.
“Travel companies will be liaising with their accommodation providers to ensure that they are ready to receive customers and customers will be notified accordingly.”
British Airways, Ryanair and Tui were all contacted for comment.