Now, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced plans to make the exclusion zone an official tourism site, complete with walking trails and enhanced mobile phone reception in a bid to stop people thinking negatively about the area.
As reported by MailOnline, the president said: “Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real ‘ghost town’.
“We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists.
“New tourist routes, including waterways, will be developed, new checkpoints will be built, and the existing ones will be restored and upgraded. Groundless restrictions and prohibitions, such as prohibition to shoot a video, will be abolished.
“Due to the interaction of mobile providers, communication will be improved in the Chernobyl zone. Also, Ukraine will promote tourist Chernobyl during international events.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Credit: PA
On Twitter he spoke about a ‘green corridor’ which will be created to increase the number of visitors the site gets each and every year. It is hoped that this move will put a stop to law enforcers taking bribes from tourists.
He continued: “Unfortunately, the exclusion zone is also a symbol of corruption in Ukraine. These are bribes that security officials collect from tourists, the illegal export of scrap and the use of natural resources.
“We will stop all this very soon. Let’s finally stop scaring off tourists and turn the exclusion zone into a scientific and upcoming tourist magnet.
“Let’s make it a land of freedom that will become one of the symbols of a new Ukraine. Without corruption. Without unnecessary prohibitions.”
The site will have better phone reception. Credit: CHERNOBYLwel.come
The area has seen a rise in tourism since the five-part series Chernobyl aired, with Sergiy Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast tours, telling Reuters the company has seen a 30 percent increase in tourists visiting the area in May 2019, compared with the same month last year.
He said bookings for June, July and August have also risen by approximately 40 percent since Sky aired the show.
When we spoke to Martin Duben – one of the people behind CHERNOBYLwel.com, a tour operators taking anyone willing into the exclusion zone – he also admitted that trips to the destination had become so popular that it’s now ‘crowded’.
He said: “It depends what time of the year you go, the spring and autumn are crowded – in April, May, September and October there are thousands of visitors per weekend.
“The ghost town of Pripyat is not a ghost town at all, you have a hard time trying to take a picture where there is no one there. There’s too many tourists.”