HBO’s Chernobyl Is Massively Increasing Tourism To Abandoned Nuclear Plant

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 05 Jun 2019 17:33
chernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic/Pixabay

It didn’t take long for the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in our lives to be filled by another dramatic – and some say better – TV show.

HBO and Sky Atlantic’s new miniseries, Chernobyl, is currently sitting pretty as one of the highest rated TV shows of all time, coming out on top of the likes of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad on IMDb.


And while naysayers may suggest it’s too early to compare, it’s not just internet critics and ratings systems the show has impressed.

Check out the trailer here:


The success of the historical drama is reportedly driving an increase in tourism among people keen to see the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident and the eerie abandoned town it resulted in.


According to Reuters, one Chernobyl tour agency has reported a 40 per cent rise in bookings since the series started last month.

April marked the 33rd anniversary of the disaster, which was caused by a faulty safety test in the fourth reactor at the nuclear power plant.

The series focuses on the aftermath of the explosion, the attempted clean-up operation and inquiry into the event.

ChernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

While there has been a grim fascination with the town of Pripyat since the disaster – which was once home to 50,000 people but now resembles an abandoned ghost town, overrun with wildlife and crumbling buildings – requests to see the area has risen sharply since the series has been on air.

Sergiy Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast tours, told Reuters the company experienced a 30 per cent increase in tourists in May 2019, while bookings for June, July and August have risen by 40 per cent from last year.

Director of Chernobyl Tour, Yaroslav Yemelianenko, said his company has also experienced a 30-40 per cent increase because of the show.

HBO's chernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

Tour guide Viktoria Brozhko said:

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.

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.


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Craig Mazin, the creator of the HBO/Sky Atlantic series, visited the site before writing the show.

Mazin said:


I’m not a religious man, but that’s as religious as I’ll ever feel.

To walk where they walked felt so strange, and also being under that same piece of sky you start to feel a little closer, in a sense, to who they were.

abandoned area of chernobylPixabay

Tourists can board buses from the centre of Kiev, and are then driven the 75 miles (120km) to the area. They are taken around the abandoned town of Pripyat, as well as reactor number four (which is now covered by a huge metal dome), and the bunker where officials made decisions about what to do in the aftermath of the disaster.

While Chernobyl is seeing an influx in tourism, not everyone sees it positively, as one tourist noted:

There are quite a lot of tourists already here and it does kind of take away the experience of being in a completely abandoned town, so I think if more and more tourists come here that will ruin the experience.

Chernobyl is currently available to watch on HBO and Sky Atlantic.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Film and TV, Chernobyl, HBO, nuclear, Tourism


  1. Reuters

    HBO show success drives Chernobyl tourism boom