Business is booming in Chernobyl where the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky has signed a decree officially turning the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone into a tourist centre for visitors from all over the world.
The signing of the decree means that the Chernobyl exclusion zone get substantial funds to develop tourism facilities according to President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky.
Video Credit: CEN/@valldemarka
He added that the current restrictions on visiting and filming near the nuclear power plant will be lifted – and that more initiatives will be taken to attract tourists from all over the world to Ukraine.
However the move has been criticised by many including Major General Nikolai Tarakanov, who led the operation to remove highly radioactive elements from the especially dangerous areas of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
He said Zelensky’s proposal was irresponsible and alleged that visiting the area which this year involved over 60,000 tourists travelling to the region was still dangerous.
The major who is not registered as a disabled person due to radiation sickness that he was contaminated with by his work in the region said: “Apart from idiocy, I don’t see anything in this idea.”
The Ukrainian move follows an unprecedented increase in tours to the region after the release of the TV series “Chernobyl”, which was produced by HBO in association with Sky UK, with tourists now more interested in the Belorussian part of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The interest was revealed by the deputy director of the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, Maxim Kudin. His organisation was created to enclose the part of Belarus most affected by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. It is alongside the Chernobyl exclusion zone over the border in Ukraine.
Prior to the tragedy, 22,000 people lived there in 96 communities, all of which were evacuated.
The increasing influx of visitors is being managed by the State Agency for Tourism of Ukraine which confirmed 21 new travel routes have been developed in the zone, including 5 over water and 3 that are air routes.
In an interview with Central European News (CEN), Steve Pafford, a journalist from Australia confirmed he was one of those who had taken a trip to Chernobyl.
He said: “Parts of the zone are still extremely dangerous, entry is relatively restricted, although not all visitors play by the rules.
He added: “Visitors are officially forbidden to be in the zone with bare legs, arms or feet, which should tell you something about how ‘safe’ the place really is, so, as I turned up in shorts and a t-shirt, I opted for the surprisingly non-compulsory protective clothing.
“However, I did have a few brief moments of madness and let the rebel in me take over. Risky perhaps but I did take my shoes off for a few quick ‘selfie’ foot pics, trying to balance on a metal barrier as I did so. Sitting on the ground or touching anything at all is not encouraged.”
Video Credit: CEN/@valldemarka
The region is particularly popular with photographers because the abandoned modernist architecture makes it resemble the location of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie.
The Australian added: “This entirely abandoned city is a photographer’s dream, especially its decaying sports ground and rusting amusement park. The park houses a rusting hulk of a merry-go-round and dodgem-car track, and that giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation. It was to opened on 1st May, 1986 — the traditional May Day holiday.
“I bought a fridge magnet as I was leaving the zone. There are two souvenir stalls.”
Daniel Boebel, a tourist from Hungary, told CEN: “To go to Chernobyl you first of all need to be mentally prepared. Secondly, you need to be tested by doctors. And in the third instance, you need to eat well at home, and take as much food as possible with you. There are no shops in the area where you can buy food or water.”
Daniel added: “The feelings and emotions that you got when you are there are incomparable, at many times it felt to us that we were in a movie.”
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Story By: Amelia Guran, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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