Stop me if you've heard this one before: The success of a popular and critically acclaimed HBO series has caused spikes in tourism on the other side of the planet. No, we're not talking about Game of Thrones, but rather the hit miniseries Chernobyl. According to reports, the stressful and highly detailed dramatization of the nuclear disaster has caused a traffic boom in northern Ukraine in the areas surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Sure, one might think that an area so closely connected with the threat of radiation would be last in line on a list of potential vacation spots, but HBO's Chernobyl has been a powerful reminder of the planet's biggest nuclear catastrophe. And people apparently want to get as up close and personal as possible with the Chernobyl plant and the nearby ghost town of Pripyat.
The director of SoloEast tours, Sergiy Ivanchuk, reported to Reuters that the company saw a 30% increase in tourism in May 2019 when compared to the same time last year. The future is looking bright as well, as it's stated the company's bookings have risen by around 40% for June, July and August, presumably tied to Chernobyl viewers watching the show ahead of planning their trip.
A comparable rise in interest and bookings was experienced by the company Chernobyl Tour, according to its director Yaroslav Yemelianenko. That tour in particular will take customers to various locations that were seen in the HBO series. Though this is likely one of those cases where it won't be so enjoyable to act out much of what played out in any area on the tour.
Some arguable highlights of these tours include monuments to the victims of the nuclear disaster, abandoned village, and the bunker where Chernobyl's Powers That Be gathered and relied on misinformation as proof against the need to evacuate the city. As well, there's lunch to be had inside Chernobyl's only restaurant.
While the infamous Reactor 4 is currently covered and surrounded by a concrete and lead sarcophagus, which is itself covered by a larger, arch-shaped steel structure, tourists will still be able to take a peek at the giant 344-ft high structure. Clearly there's no need to build sets to become tourist attractions when this place already has the real thing.
Then there's the abandoned town of Pripyat, which was founded in 1970 as an area meant to serve the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant with housing for its workers, along with businesses and entertainment features. One particularly memorable feature in Pripyat is the amusement park that was set to open publicly on May 1, 1986, timed to May Day holiday celebrations.
Of course, that opening never happened, as the city was evacuated after the disaster began on April 26, but the Ferris wheel, bumper car track and more are still up and visible. That's on the same level of "haunting AF" as the Six Flags theme park in New Orleans that was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.
Casual viewers probably wonder how safe this trip can be for tourists. Here's what tour guide Viktoria Brozhko told Reuters:
During the entire visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you get around two microsieverts, which is equal to the amount of radiation you’d get staying at home for 24 hours.
Considering your home probably wasn't featured in HBO's Chernobyl, you're not doing yourself any favors by staying there instead of taking a trip to Ukraine.
With any luck, all this interest in Chernobyl and its real-world source material will inspire people to be just as selfless and virtuous as many of the scientists, engineers and public workers (among others) were in the aftermath of the the 1986 disaster. Creator Craig Mazin hopes that e unwilling to stop fighting for the truth