Chernobyl suddenly becomes visitor hotspot

(CNN) — It was the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, but three decades later Chernobyl is emerging as one of the planet’s hottest tourism tickets after a new TV series.
For the past few years, a steady stream of adventurous visitors has been drawn to the macabre spectacle of the deserted, decaying city around the power station.
Now, since the recent launch of HBO series “Chernobyl,” travel interest in the location of the horrific nuclear explosion has surged dramatically, according to local tour operators.
The miniseries, starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson, dramatizes the aftermath of the disaster. It was the highest-ranked TV show on film and TV database IMDB as its fifth and final episode aired earlier this month.
Although “Chernobyl” was mainly filmed in Lithuania, its success has seen demand for tours of the area near the infamous Ukrainian site increase by around a third.
Located near the city of Pripyat, around 110 kilometers north of Kiev, Chernobyl is one of the most polluted places in the world and can only be visited with a licensed guide.
Various tour companies offer guided trips into the “exclusion zone,” which covers an area of more than 4,000 square kilometers around the nuclear power plant.
“We have seen a 35% rise in bookings,” says Victor Korol, director of SoloEast, a tour company which has been offering trips to parts of Chernobyl for two decades.
“Most of the people say they decided to book after seeing this show. It’s almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over.”
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