Tourism

Chernobyl sees tourism boom thanks to TV series on nuclear disaster

Chernobyl has seen a rise in tourism, thanks to the success of a TV mini-series examining the 1986 nuclear disaster, according to reports.

Reuters reported that the success of HBO’s series Chernobyl has seen a rise in the Ukraine region’s tourism industry since the show aired in May, with leaders of tours to Chernobyl saying that bookings have increased up to 40 per cent.

Amusement park in Pripyat, at the exclusion Zone of Chernobyl.
An abandoned amusement park in Pripyat, at the exclusion Zone of Chernobyl.

Sergiy Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast tours, told Reuters the company saw a 30 per cent increase in tourists going to the area in May 2019 compared with the same month last year. Bookings for June, July and August have risen by approximately 40 per cent since HBO aired the show, he said.

Yaroslav Yemelianenko, director of Chernobyl Tour – which offers tours of locations depicted in the show – said he expected a similar increase of 30 to 40 per cent because of the show.

In Pripyat, once home to 50,000 people who mainly worked at the plant, an amusement park houses a rusting hulk of a merry-go-round and dodgem-car track, and a giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation.
In Pripyat, once home to 50,000 people who mainly worked at the plant, an amusement park houses a rusting hulk of a merry-go-round and dodgem-car track, and a giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation.

Tourists on day trips reportedly board buses in the centre of Kiev and are driven 120 kilometres to the area, where they can see monuments to the victims and abandoned villages and have lunch in the only restaurant in the town of Chernobyl.

They are then taken to see reactor number four, which since 2017 has been covered by a vast metal dome 344-feet high, enveloping the exploded core. The day finishes with a walk around Pripyat.

A view over Chernobyl, with a view of the white, dome-like New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure in the distance.
A view over Chernobyl, with a view of the white, dome-like New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure in the distance.

“Many people come here, they ask a lot of questions about the TV show, about all the events. People are getting more and more curious,” tour guide Viktoria Brozhko said, insisting the area is safe for visitors.

“During the entire visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you [are exposed to] … the amount of radiation you’d get staying at home for 24 hours.”

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