From nuclear disaster to Chernobyl’s booming tourism via Al-jazeera

Some 50,000 people visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one of the most radioactive places on Earth, in 2017.


Known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the towns and villages within a 30-kilometre radius around the destroyed reactor were evacuated of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants following the disaster.

In 2011, the Ukrainian government opened the Exclusion Zone to tourists over the age of 18. It remains one of the most radioactive places on Earth, though authorities insist it is now safe to visit.

Reclaimed by nature

About 50,000 people visited the Exclusion Zone last year, more than triple the number who came in 2015. An estimated 60 percent of the visitors are foreigners. In the Exclusion Zone, they find abandoned Soviet cities frozen in time and once-bustling urban centres reclaimed by nature.

The Exclusion Zone is governed by a separate legal entity from the rest of Ukraine and passports are thoroughly checked as visitors pass through two checkpoints into the area. On the way out, everyone must clear two rounds of radiation control, in which scanners check for radioactive dust.


“Tourism is a very powerful enlightenment tool. Many people leave Chernobyl with a different perspective than they arrived with.”

Mirnyi said the majority of the visitors are between 25-40 years of age and that the tourism has led to greater open-mindedness.

“The generations that lived through Chernobyl were terrified by the disaster. For the new generations, Chernobyl is an important event that they can view logically in a historical context.”

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