Tourist flow to the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is growing year by year
HBO showed the fifth and final installment of its mini-series Chernobyl, dedicated to the disaster that took place in Ukraine 33 years ago. In the West, the series was received extremely well, while in Russia, it was received with a little more restraint, but still reached record ratings.
Who else knows how to sell the Chernobyl brand? More in the article below from The Republic.
Interest in what happened at the Chernobyl station has never ceased.
The number of tourists traveling to Chernobyl is growing every year.
While two years ago about 50,000 people from all over the world came to Chernobyl, in 2018 numbers had already reached 75,000. This year, according to forecasts, up to 100,000 tourists will visit Chernobyl, says Michal Krajčir, manager of Slovenian travel agency CHERNOBYLwel.come.
The start of a business
Chernobyl began to become a worldwide known tourist destination in the early 2010s, when the Ukrainian authorities opened (since 2011) tourists access to the exclusion zone, and the major English-speaking media began to write about it as the most interesting place for those who love adventure. and “gloomy” tourism.
And in 2017, according to the estimates of the Chairman of the Association of Chernobyl Tourism (Ukraine), Sergei Mirny, the Chernobyl zone brought about 200,000 USD to the Ukrainian budget. The cost of the tour is relatively low: day trips cost 50–100 dollars, two-day trips cost 200–300 dollars, depending on the services (for example, the availability of food). In addition to groups, operators offer private excursions and flights over the exclusion zone in planes.
Cinema as an engine of commerce
The release of the HBO series has caused a real tourist boom, the organizers of excursions report a sharp jump in interest in Chernobyl.
According to representatives of two Ukrainian companies, the number of bookings of their tours for the next three months has increased by 30–40 percent. In one day, up to 2,000 tourists can come.
Most of the tourists are foreigners.
In the past, Mirny said in an interview that those who came from abroad account for about two-thirds of the tourist flow (the rest are citizens of Ukraine). Now the State Agency for Management of the Exclusion Zone estimates the share of foreigners at 80 percent of the total number of visitors. Up until 2014, more than half of the tourists came from Russia, but today, there are just a few of them, given the damaged relations between the two countries, says Mirny.
The average tourist in Chernobyl, Krajchir says, is 25–40 years old (a third of them are women), who loves adventure and wants unusual impressions and sensations.
What to see
The main attractions are the ghost town of Pripyat, the Duga radar station built for the purpose of early detection of intercontinental missiles and the station itself.
Tourists are also allowed to visit the administrative building of the station, the local museum, the “golden corridor” (the corridor passing through all the power units of the station), the control panel of the first reactor, and also to walk outside the walls of the sarcophagus over the fourth power unit, where the accident occurred. The level of radiation in areas accessible to tourists is not dangerous for health during a short-term stay.
Judging by the huge number of reviews on travel sites, the visit to the site almost never fails to leave an impression.
“Very spectacular place, worth a visit, 10 out of 10.”
“A surreal experience, unlike anything.”
“I can’t even express how incredible it was. It doesn’t matter whether you know the history or whether you’re not aware of what happened here – the impression from this place will remain for a long time.”
However, not all visitors to the zone are enthusiastic: to some, it seems that the organizers of the tours are too obviously exploiting the fears and expectations of tourists.
“I’m a historian, I’m interested,” wrote one of the visitors in a TripAdvisor review. “But by the fifth hour of the excursion I wanted to go back to Kyiv. There were many stops and crossings, a marked route and skillfully placed dolls in the ruins – that was too much.”