Europe finds itself in the tight grip of a scorching and dangerous heatwave named Charon, affecting several countries, including Spain, Italy, Serbia, Greece among several others. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that record-breaking temperatures, soaring as high as 48.8°C in some regions, are expected to worsen in the coming days. Reports suggest that it will last till beginning of August . In Rome, outside The Colosseum, volunteers are offering water bottles and setting up giant fans to keep tourists hydrated and comfortable.The blistering heat is coinciding with the peak tourist season, causing concerns for travellers and locals alike.
Traveller experiences and precautions
Neha Yadav, an HR manager from Delhi, shares her experience from a recent vacation in Paris, France, where extreme temperatures caught her by surprise. “As if dealing with it in Delhi wasn’t enough. Luckily, the homestay we had booked placed extra pedestal fans in rooms as there was no provision for AC. Moreover, it was a given that the rental car would have air-conditioning but that wasn’t the case. We realised only when we got the vehicle and the heat was unbearable which made the road journey so uncomfortable!” she says.
However, some tourists remain undeterred by the heatwave. Sunita Sharma from Faridabad, who is flying to Europe for two weeks, is prepared to take precautions similar to those she follows in Delhi’s scorching weather, such as “using sunscreen and staying hydrated”. “Heatwave in Europe is a yearly phenomenon now,” she adds. Whereas, Gurugram-based research analyst, Dhruv Wadhwa, who is looking forward to a vacation in August, plans to modify his itinerary to a cooler destination.
No cancellations, but change in itinerary, say travel operators
“We continue to see demand for Europe despite the current weather conditions. Although we have not witnessed any trend of customers cancelling or postponing their travel plans, many are opting for destinations like Scandinavia, Croatia and East Europe, as well as erstwhile CIS countries like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, due to cooler climates. Schengen Visa challenges have abated considerably and this is driving our forward,” informs Rajeev Kale, president and country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited. Daniel D’souza president and country head, Holidays, SOTC Travel, agrees and adds, “We are [also] not witnessing an impact on bookings due to the ongoing weather conditions; however, we continue to monitor the situation and keep our customers updated.”
Tourist hotspots battling extreme heat
Amid the heatwave’s onslaught, Greece was forced to close down its famous Acropolis in Athens during daytime to safeguard visitors from the extreme heat. In Spain’s La Palma, nearly a thousand tourists were evacuated when temperatures reached a scorching 60°C due to a nearby wildfire. The situation was no better in Croatia, where raging fires prompted evacuations as well. On Italy’s Sardinia, a British tourist had to be airlifted from the beach after losing consciousness due to the oppressive heat.
Tips for a safe trip
To stay safe during the heatwave, travellers are advised to stay hydrated (carry a thermo-steel bottle and if possible, carry oral rehydrating solutions), use sunscreen, avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, find air-conditioned spots to rest and wear loose, light-coloured clothing, same goes for shoes; carry a cap or umbrella or portable hand-held mini fans, if required. Travel insurance for medical emergencies and confirming air conditioning availability in accommodations and rental cars are also essential precautions.