The Chernobyl Effect: Instagram influencers slammed for taking 'inappropriate' pictures at site after HBO show spurs tourist boom
HBO's 'Chernobyl' has been earning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike and has somehow managed to eclipse the network's flagship show 'Game of Thrones' in popularity over the last month.
In fact, it's now being reported that the historical drama has not only raked in viewers, but also resulted in an influx of tourists to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — an area of approximately 2,600 sq km immediately surrounding the plant that will remain unfit for human inhabitation for thousands of years.
According to Reuters, the success of 'Chernobyl' — which aired its five episodes between the end of April and the beginning of June — has boosted the number of tourists who want to visit the region and experience its unique and eerie attractions for themselves.
Sergiy Ivanchuk, the director of SoloEast Tours and Travel, revealed that his company had seen a 30% increase in tourists visiting the area in May 2019 in comparison with the same month last year. He also said that the bookings for June, July, and August have risen by approximately 40% since HBO aired the show, with Yaroslav Yemelianenko, the director of Chernobyl Tour, also stating that he expected a similar increase over the coming months.
The English-language tours, which usually cost about $100 per person, give visitors a chance to see monuments raised to honor the victims, the abandoned villages in and around the area, and, of course, the infamous reactor number four responsible for the disaster which is now covered by a vast metal dome 105 metres (344 ft) high enveloping the core.
Tour guide Viktoria Brozhko confirmed that many tourists have been influenced by the drama. "Many people come here, they ask a lot of questions about the TV show, about all the events. People are getting more and more curious," she said. She also dispelled the popular myth that visiting the region could prove detrimental to one's health. "During the entire visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you get around two microsieverts, which is equal to the amount of radiation you'd get staying at home for 24 hours," she explained.
Among those flocking to the area are Instagram influencers, who have taken a particular liking to Pripyat, the ghost town located close to the plant that was once home to 50,000 people. Uploads on the social media website show most of these influencers posing in an amusement park that houses a merry-go-round, a dodgem-car track, and a giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation.
But the provocative nature of some of the hashtags that accompany these posts has seen Craig Mazin, the writer and producer of 'Chernobyl', take to Twitter to ask that the tourists not behave in a way that can be constituted as being tone deaf.
"It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion," he wrote. "But yes, I've seen the photos going around. If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed."