The Chernobyl nuclear site is to become an officially tourist attraction, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced.
Interest in the disaster zone has spiked dramatically in recent months following the success of hit HBO’s controversial television series Chernobyl, a show depicts the disaster of April 1986 and the unprecedented cleanup efforts that followed.
Taking place near the city of Pripyat, north of the Ukrainian SSR, the disaster was sparked by huge explosions that ripped the roof off of Chernobyl’s reactor number four after a number of catastrophic errors made by staff of the power plant.
Tens of thousands of people were exposed to lethal amounts of radiation which resulted in countless deaths, a huge surge in serious illness such as cancer and other major health disorders. To this day, an exclusion zone surrounds the area of Chernobyl which is not expected to be habitable again for at least another 20,000 years.
Now, however, the radiation levels have lowered to safer measurements and has allowed the country to monetise the situation with brief tours for visitors. Although the area had officially reopened to tourists in 2011, the area has seen a 40% boost in tourism following the release of the Johan Renck directed mini-series
Now, President Zelensky is decided to make it his mission to turn the negative history of the nuclear disaster into a positive source of income. “Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” he told the BBC “The time has come to change this.”
Mr Zelensky added: “We will create a green corridor for tourists. Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature [has been] reborn after a huge man-made disaster.
“We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians [and] tourists,” the president concluded.
Below, see some images of the area taken by photographer David McMillan who has visited the contaminated areas numerous times since the explosion.