According to Sergiy Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast tours who spoke to Reuters, since the HBO series began streaming in May of this year, the company has seen a 30 percent spike in business compared to May of last year. He explained that the spike is even greater for the months of July and August, with bookings having risen approximately 40 percent.
In fact, a quick scan of the Pripyat or Chernobyl location tags on Instagram shows dozens of influencers posing in the ruins of the abandoned city, once home to 50,000 people, located near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
On June 11, Twitter user Bruno Zupan even collected a handful of the images, showing influencers standing half-nude in the ghost town and posing next to a long-abandoned bus.
Meanwhile in Chernobyl: Instagram influencers flocking to the site of the disaster. pic.twitter.com/LnRukoLirQ— Bruno Zupan (@komacore) June 9, 2019
Although Chernobyl has long been a tourist hotspot, popular among filmmakers, journalists, and photographers, the influx of new visitors is largely there to see the inspiration behind the HBO series in person.
“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,” Viktoria Brozhko, a tour guide who insists the area is safe for vistiors, said. “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.”
In fact, companies are now even beginning to cater to their interests, offering tours of locations depicted in the series, including reactor number four and the very bunker where officials made the initial decision not to evacuate the city following the explosion.
The wave of fresh interest and the influencers traveling to the ghost town for clout has even caught the attention of Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, who addressed the tourism on June 11, stating that although he is not against it, those traveling to the area need to remember the tragedy that occurred.
It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. 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.— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) June 11, 2019
Premiering on HBO in May, Chernobyl has since risen to be the top-rated TV show on IMDb with a 9.7 out of 10 rating, beating out the likes of AMC’s Breaking Bad and HBO’s Game of Thrones.
The series is a dramatization of the April 26, 1986, massive explosion at the Chernobyl power plant, which resulted in the release of radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe.
The series is available for streaming on HBO.