Tourism in Chernobyl Has Taken Wings after the Release of HBO Miniseries

The worldwide success of the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl” brought a new generation of tourists to the places devastated by the nuclear accident on April 26, 1986.

Greeted by critics and the public, the miniseries made by the American television station HBO presented the tragic moments during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The five-episode miniseries stars Jared Harris, Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd, and Emily Watson. The production directed by Johan Renck tells the story of the accident and insists on the efforts made by the rescuers, but also on those to reduce the effects of the explosion of the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant. Shortly after launch, with an average of 9.7 out of 10 on IMDb – from the ratings of over 140,000 users of the platform owned by Amazon -, “Chernobyl” surpassed in popularity the cult series “Breaking Bad” (9.5) , but also the highly publicized “Game of Thrones” (9.3), whose last season disappointed many fans.

Currently, the area surrounding the plant is still unobtainable within a 30-kilometer radius, but on a small part of the territory, tourists have been allowed access.

In recent months, the places most affected by the explosion of the reactor at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl and those in Lithuania where the miniseries were filmed were the most sought after by tourists. The official guide of the nuclear power plant, Evgheni Goncearenko, disappointedly remarked that visitors “no longer need information and come here just to take pictures”.

The director of the Chernobyl information center, Aleksandr Sirota, said that several travel agencies have started to organize visits to the affected areas, offering them as a “fast-food” product. Moreover, the new president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, signed in July a decree encouraging the development of tourism in the Chernobyl area.

Louis Carlos, 27, knew nothing about Chernobyl before watching the show on HBO. The miniseries motivated him to go to Ukraine. “If people come here to understand what has happened and to try to learn something, it is a good choice. This is history,” said the tourist.

Travel agencies have already adapted their offers to show tourists the central points exposed in the miniseries, proposing additional activities such as kayaking in the rivers surrounding the exclusion zone.

In 2017, about 50,000 people visited Chernobyl, and in 2018, the number of tourists increased to 72,000. Currently, the association of tour operators expects that this year the number of visitors will be about 100,000.

Evgeni Goncearenko said that there were still sharp increases in the number of tourists following the launch of the American horror film “The Diary of Terror / Chernobyl Diaries” in 2012 and after the integration of the territory in 2014 into the “Call of Duty 4” game.

Yaroslav Yemelianenko, president of the Chernobyl guide association, believes that this increase in the number of tourists is beneficial. “We have to promote the place, talk about it, attract tourists,” he said.

The Chernobyl nuclear accident took place on April 26, 1986, at 01.23 local-time. It was caused by an explosion of the nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, and the area near the disaster was contaminated. A cloud of radioactive rainfall has reached the western part of the Soviet Union, Europe, and eastern North America. The countries most affected by the disaster were Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. About 8.4 million residents of the three states were exposed to radiation, and 336,000 people were evacuated. Belarus was the most weather-affected state, as 60% of radioactive rainfall fell on its territory. Former Soviet Union leadership acknowledged that it needed international assistance in 1990, four years after the accident.

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