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Ukraine's Chernobyl might be on track to become 2019's surprise hit tourism destination, after a widely discussed HBO miniseries resulted in a surge in bookings for trips to the site and the nearby town that were abandoned after a major nuclear accident in 1986.
Trip bookings have increased 30 per cent in May year-on-year and were up over the next three months, said Sergii Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast Travel that organises trips to the nuclear power plant and its surrounding areas. Another tour company, Chernobylwel.com, confirmed that its numbers had increased, as well.
On their tours, visitors usually head to the abandoned town of Pripyat next to the power plant, which was evacuated within hours, and other sites, including the former power plant itself. Radiation levels during the trips are considered to be safe, but the area around the power plant remains largely uninhabited until today.
Tourists are flocking to Chernobyl in the wake of HBO's hit TV mini-series. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
HBO's Chernobyl - a mix of real events and fictional accounts - immediately hit a nerve when it was released this spring. The silence at the time from Soviet officials who were unwilling to acknowledge that the catastrophe had happened reminded some of the wavering trust they have in their own politicians to tell them the truth.
The destructive power of nuclear energy triggered memories of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the nuclear threats exchanged between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un not too long ago.
This article first appeared on www.traveller.com.au
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