Over 33 years since the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the government of Ukraine is officially turning the site into a tourist attraction.
President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to improve Ukraine’s reputation and make the best of the country’s famous disaster by introducing walking trails, waterways, checkpoints, and better phone reception in the exclusion zone, the quarantined area surrounding the power plant.
The No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, located about 110 miles from the capital city of Kiev, exploded in April 1986, causing what is considered to be one of the most disastrous nuclear accidents in history. Thirty employees of the power plant and firemen died within a few days or weeks of the accident, and 28 of them suffered from acute radiation syndrome.
“Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” said Zelensky, as reported by the BBC. “The time has come to change this. We will create a green corridor for tourists. Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature [has been] reborn after a huge man-made disaster. We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians [and] tourists.”
Restrictions on filming and photography will also be lifted, paving the way for Chernobyl to become a popular Instagram backdrop. This is especially true considering the recent success of HBO’s Chernobyl series.
Since the site opened to visitors in 2011, a growing number of tourists have gone to northern Ukraine to visit the rusting remains of the ghost city of Pripyat. It is estimated that in 2017 alone, 50,000 people visited the area that was evacuated after the explosion, a number three times greater than that of 2015.