Once the location of one of the world’s biggest disasters, Chernobyl is increasingly becoming a popular travel destination. Last year, around 70,000 tourists visited the exclusion zone in Ukraine.
Scientists and activists say visitors at Pripyat never leave with a feeling of indifference. This is the case for Johan, a horse racing commentator from the UK.
"It’s quite mind-blowing to see so many structures", he said. To see how much had been built here. A lot of design, a lot of thought has gone into this. It’s not on just the flats people were living in. there is a swimming pool here, a school. And it’s mind-blowing that this whole community had to move out in the blink of an eye."
Unfortunately, visitors also leave their mark on the area, especially those who come without the necessary permission or with a guide’s supervision. A lot of rubbish has to be collected, which is part of the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident.
Euronews' Natalia Liubchenkova said: "Vodka bottles beer cans plastic. Chernobyl exclusion zone is not polluted only with the radiation. Today the local volunteers are joining a global initiative Trashtag Challenge to collect the garbage earlier left by tourist."
Among the cleaners who volunteer are the Chernobyl tour guides. They have permits to enter the exclusion zone and they care about it being clean.
Anton Yuhymenko is a Chernobyl guide and said, "Our task is to collect rubbish that has accumulated here over the past few years and more recently. We put this in piles and then take it out of the zone following radiation safety standards."
The Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators has been working on obtaining UNESCO World Heritage status for the exclusion zone as many tourists visit and it contributes to the overall image of Ukraine.