Olena Fomina | Chernobyl’s tourism a break to new start

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The COVID-19 pandemic, like a gust of wind, closed its doors right in front of millions people around the world, who have never managed to realize their travel plans and dreams. This spring, it was not necessary to cross the threshold and tens of thousands of adventurers inspired by TV mini-series “Chornobyl” – a video that shook the world. Well, even hundreds of thousands, because this year we expected more than 200 thousand tourists in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone …

Remained unexplored new routes, which we were preparing especially for new season in anticipation of a record influx of tourists. The cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat, the abandoned villages – Kopachi, Zalissia, Krasne, which, like a magnet, attracted thousands of tourists every year, are again immersed in silence. Separate projects for the development of Chernobyl tourism stopped …

But, it’s not the ringing silence that enveloped the Exclusion Zone nor the haunting routes, astonished by the ghostly outskirts of cities and towns, became the major tragedy of Chornobyl in this strange 2020.

The fires!

The Chernobyl zone has been experiencing almost the largest fires in its history for three weeks.In early April, fire swept vast territories.
by preliminary estimates, the wildfires burned more than 10% of territories of 12 abandoned villages At least (Leliv, Kopachi, Poliske and others) were burned – only ashes remained in the place.

The irreparable loss for Chernobyl tourism was the village of Leliv and the former Soviet pioneer camp “Emerald”. In the wooden houses decorated with quirky drawings of heroes from old Soviet cartoons, children of nuclear power plant staff and their families of the garrison of the secret Chernobyl rested before the disaster. The first liquidators of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster lived in this camp. Everything is well preserved here – the summer houses, and the central stage where pioneers once performed. Rather, it was kept … til the last fire.

And although similar situations occur in Chernobyl zone almost every year, it is a seasonal problem, fires of similar destructive in the Exclusion Zone was happend only once – in 2015, when flames burned over 300 hectares of land.

This is a heavy loss for all of us, we miss the “time capsules” of lost objects in our history stored in the forest. It is impossible to speak without tears about the ecosystem and wild animals of Chernobyl zone, to which the fire caused the biggest damage. After all, after the towns and villages were abandoned, foxes, hares, hedgehogs, Przewalski’s horses and even bears and Lynxes settled in these territories.

The terrible experience of this year also showed the need to improve fire safety in the Exclusion Zone:we need to equip driveways, to lay fire-clearings and mineralized strips of sand and clay, able to stop the spread of fire between blocks of forest.

But at the same time, with happy tears the main objects of Chernobyl tourism have survived – the city of Chernobyl, the military town of Chernobyl-2, where the radar and ghost town of Pripyat are located. But, we would have lose it too – the fire was very close.

Well, time of current quarantine, we all have a lot of work to do. So that our guests can get even better tourist experience and take part in perhaps the brightest adventure of their life!

Chornobyl tourism is only temporarily paused – as soon as the borders are opened, it will attract tourists who miss their travels and impressions with renewed power.

We cannot predict the full recovery of tourist flows this year – neither in May nor in June, most likely will not be open Unfortunately.
So, we can’t talk about hundreds or even tens of thousands of tourists this summer.

However, by the end of summer – early autumn, we expect some revival in tourism industry. At the same time, Ukraine and Chornobyl may be win. After quarantine, the whole world will be in a very difficult economic situation. But this does not mean that people will completely refuse to travel. The human being is a social being, in addition to needing new impressions and new visual shocks, especially after months of “lockdown”. Therefore, tourism will be restored, but first and foremost, travelers will pay attention to budget proposals. European tourists who are the main visitors to Exclusion Zone when they come to us will be able to save on air tickets. Ukraine has something to offer tourists. Also for the small money. And the Chernobyl zone can more than make up for the gap in impressions that quarantine adventurers have encountered.

For all of us, people who have connected their lives with Chernobyl tourism, this forced pause should not be an excuse for inaction and apathy. This is time we can and should spend to prepare for a new start.

We are now developing routes, based on lost locations, we are considering upgrading and upgrading the tourism cluster and preparing guides.

Yes, we have recently opened Chornobyl guide’s school, an educational online platform for teaching Chernobyl tour guides and anyone interested in the topic of Chernobyl. We are also preparing surprises for those who can no longer wait for the completion of the quarantine – soon dizzying online tours will be available in the very heart of the Exclusion Zone – Chornobyl NPP.

After rain the sun always comes back out.

We believe in tomorrow!

Olena Fomina, Founder of “GAMMA TRAVEL” company , Head NGO Chernobyl NOW and Chornobyl guide’s school


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