The President of Ukraine announced on Wednesday that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site will become an official tourist attraction.
According to Fox News, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree to designate the location of the 1986 disaster as a tourist site after the area saw an increase in visitors following the release of the popular HBO “Chernobyl” miniseries.
“Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” Zelensky said during the signing, according to the BBC. “The time has come to change this.”
The April 1986 nuclear disaster left at least 30 people dead in the immediate aftermath. Some died from either the explosion at the reactor or from acute radiation sickness in the months after, which sparked a widespread environmental disaster.
President Zelensky described the area as “a unique place on the planet where nature is reviving after a major technological catastrophe,” and said walking trails, waterways and checkpoints will be implemented for visitors.
He unveiled the plans as he inaugurated a gigantic structure built to confine radioactive debris reactor No. 4, which cost around $1.7 billion to build and took nine years to complete.
In May, HBO debuted a five-part miniseries about the explosion, which once again brought attention to the area, and according to Fox News, tour operations near the plant credited an uptick in tourism to the show.
For any interested visitors to the area, travel itineraries offered by local tour companies include guided bus trips into the Exclusion Zone, stops in abandoned villages near Chernobyl, and then “sightseeing” in the town, which itself contains memorials and the robotics used to clear hazardous materials following the disaster, the publication reports.
Visitors can now also stand outside the fourth reactor, which is now covered by a New Safe Confinement structure.