Ukrainian Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Ostap Semerak said on Friday that the number of tourists to the exclusion zone around the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) has increased almost tenfold since 2015, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
“We are witnessing a significant increase in the number of visitors to the exclusion zone. If we compare 2015 and 2018, we see that the number of tourists has risen from 8,000 to 70, 000,” Semerak told reporters during his visit to Chernobyl NPP dedicated to the 33rd anniversary of the disaster.
The tourism is booming due to the openness and the transparency of the plant, Semerak said, noting that foreigners make up nearly half of all tourists visiting Chernobyl.
The Chernobyl NPP, some 110 km north of Kiev, witnessed one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history on April 26, 1986. After the disaster, a large tract of land around the plant was designated as a forbidden zone and ordinary people were completely prohibited from entering it for decades.
As radiation levels decreased, the 30-square-km area around the plant was officially opened to tourists in 2010. The country has launched guided tours to the plant in 2018.