Chernobyl is officially becoming a tourist attraction
The site of the worst nuclear disaster in history—yet a tourist attraction—Chernobyl in Ukraine is set to officially get the tag of a tourist spot.
Despite the risk of radiation, thousands of tourists take a trip to Chernobyl every year. But it was HBO’s mini-series on the disaster, released earlier this year, that led traveller/influencer footfall at the site to spike considerably.
Plans to make Chernobyl a tourist attraction are now in action. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s newly-elected president Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a decree, under which walking trails, waterways and checkpoints will be set up in the region. There will also be enhanced mobile phone reception and withdrawal of restrictions on filming at the site—all to create mainstream appeal.
“Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” the president said. “The time has come to change this.”
On 26 April, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant—one of the oldest at the time—exploded and caused the biggest nuclear meltdown the world has ever seen. Although the final toll in the disaster is contestable, it had a ripple effect across Europe. In 2005, Greenpeace estimated that around 2,00,000 casualties could be attributed to the Chernobyl tragedy, which also rendered the exclusion zone uninhabitable for 24,000 years.
A metal dome was built to cover the ill-fated reactor at a cost of US$1.7 billion. Zelenskiy hopes to project Chernobyl as “a unique place on the planet where nature [was] reborn after a huge man-made disaster” and keep it open for scientists, ecologists and tourists alike to explore.
By making Chernobyl an official tourist spot, the Ukrainian government also hopes to curb black market practices in the region, which, according to the president, have been rampant. The administration hopes turning “the exclusion zone into a scientific and upcoming tourist magnet” through electronic ticketing will ensure this.