Visit Ukraine, an online resource and travel agency, is actively promoting trips to Ukraine to travelers.
Nobody’s vacation bucket list probably includes traveling to Ukraine right now to experience what it’s like to live amid a conflict, see its devastated cities, sense the danger, and interact with its combatants.However, a group is urging tourists to visit six months after Russia attacked the nation, causing a tsunami of death and damage.
Visit Ukraine is an online resource and travel agency. Guided day tours to the so-called “Brave Cities” that have defied and are still resisting Russian invasion were started last month, giving tourists an insight into how the nation is surviving amid combat. The website for the travel operator exhorts visitors to “Set off on a journey to awesome Ukraine right now.” The company reports that despite worldwide advisories advising against visiting Ukraine, 150 tickets have already been sold and that 1.5 million visitors per month—up 50% from pre-invasion levels—visit its website that provides advice on traveling securely to and from Ukraine. Anyone who signs up for the tours is warned to expect to walk through burned-out military equipment, cathedrals, stadiums, bomb-damaged structures, and air raid sirens. The founder and CEO of Visit Ukraine, Anton Taranenko, tells CNN Travel that while it may seem like a morbid way to spend a vacation, it’s not the same as “dark tourism,” which draws travelers to other places of death, calamity, and destruction around the globe. According to CEO Taranenko, the travel agency gives Ukraine the chance to emphasize the spirit of resistance among its people and demonstrate to the outside world that life goes on despite hostilities. Because of the Russian invasion, Ukraine is currently under a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning from the US Department of State. All US citizens are urged to leave the country immediately, and it issues a warning that no consular help may be provided after its Kyiv Embassy’s functions have been suspended. Other nations have sent out similar alerts. Attacks against cities and regions pose a “serious risk to life,” according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The CEO, though, encourages travelers to stop by. He implores people to arrive immediately to see the battle and our cities’ destruction. However, he continues, visitors and tourists should be aware that no place in Ukraine is completely risk-free, albeit having a guide will lessen the risk. He notes that many Ukrainians have now returned to locations they initially fled, mainly the capital Kyiv, as a result of the invasion, adding that “we regularly examine the situation so we can monitor the different levels of safety. One million foreigners live in Ukraine, and the country is healing. People are returning to the cities, municipalities are beginning to reconstruct, and the cities are recuperating from the atrocities. Currently, Kyiv is the safest and most visitable location,” says Taranenko. Discovering the nation, he continues, entails peering into the eyes of Ukrainians whose lives have been eternally altered but who continue to live in hope of victory. The government has praised the travel agency, Visit Ukraine, for assisting the war-torn nation’s crippled tourism industry and providing information to aid individuals traveling within and outside of the country. However, its current initiative to encourage visitors does not have official clearance. According to Mariana Oleskiv, chair of the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine claimed that despite the fighting, the internal tourism industry in Ukraine had really resumed and was already up to 50% of pre-war levels, but it was still too early and too unsafe for visitors from abroad. She recommended that excursions may be purchased as a method to help the travel and tourism industry.
Even though Ukraine has enacted martial law and stopped all air travel, according to Taranenko, foreigners can still enter and exit the country very simply by land by going through the eastern checkpoints with Europe. It is possible to travel, but independent travel security specialists advise against it. Even regions of Ukraine that seem calm might actually be dangerous, according to Charlie McGrath, the owner of Objective Travel Safety, a UK-based organization that provides training in war zones.