A travel company called Visit Ukraine has launched a campaign to bring tourists to some of the zones affected by the war in Ukraine. In an interview with CNN Travel, the founder of Visit Ukraine, Anton Taranenko, explained that these trips are to show the world how Ukraine continues with its daily life, despite the war and to give testimony of the reconstructed areas, as well as to help this country. Ukraine welcomed more than 4 million visitors last year.
“Visit Ukraine begins work on the launch of dark tourism in Ukraine,” says the website. Tours are typically comprised of about 10 people led by a guide and take about 3-4 hours, and the visits involve guides, tourism experts, and memory specialists so that tourists can see what happened in Ukraine. The site says that people who sign up for “Brave City” tours would be able to visits cities such as Cherniv, Bucha, Irpin, all of them affected by the war.
Taranenko told Business Insider that the company has provided several dozen tours since the site was updated and booked more than two hundred. Some of the people interested in the tours are Ukrainians who were displaced or had moved to other countries before the war, Taranenko said, though there have been many bookings coming from the US nationals.
The company, which “works very close to the government” of Volodymyr Zelenski, according to Taranenko, offers different excursions in Kiev and its surroundings and other areas which bore a heavy burden at the beginning of the war, such as Kharkov, the second most important city in Ukraine. These days the fighting is concentrated in the south of the country and the eastern region of Dombas.
Among the excursions offered are a day in Kiev (“Kiev fascinates you with its hospitality and will open your heart”), Kamianets-Podilsky (“it is the only city located on a natural island surrounded by a deep canyon), Odessa (the Pearl of the Black Sea and today under Russian siege), Mezhyhirya (the former presidential residence) and the Buki Gorge (“visit the small Switzerland”). Prices range from 38 to 200 euros.
But other tours allude directly to the war. For example, the excursion to Cherniv (“heroism to the northern capital”), “indestructible Kharkov”, Bucha and Irpin (“strong and invulnerable”), all at 50 euros leaving from the capital. Bucha was the scene of a massacre attributed to Russian soldiers last March. Meanwhile, Irpin, on the outskirts of the capital, was one of the major centers of Ukrainian resistance at the outbreak of the war.
Taranenko noted that many famous foreign artists have already visited Ukraine since the beginning of the war” such as Angelina Jolie, Jessica Chastain or Ben Stiller. “And many others are planning to do so in the short term,” he said.
The portal provides all the necessary information on how to act in a critical situation, where to go, how to enter/leave the country or evacuate a dangerous region. It also reminds that martial law is in force in Ukraine and air traffic is suspended, but the entry and exit of foreigners by land is allowed.
Checkpoints at the border with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova “are open and secure,” he emphasized. Quite the opposite of those on the borders with Russia, Belarus and the Transnistrian region.
According to Business Insider, the tourist site has not received any official approval from Ukrainian government. Ukraine is currently under the highest travel advisory level. The US Department of State has warned that it will not be able to assist any Americans in Ukraine. All profits from tour sales will go to help Ukrainian refugees, explains the website.