HBO’S hit miniseries, Chernobyl, which depicts the real-life events surrounding the 1986 catastrophic nuclear disaster in the Ukraine, has been become the highest-rated TV show ever on the International Movie Database (IMDB).
As well as scoring a 9.7 out of 10 average rating, and a perfect 10 for its final episode, the show also has a score of 95 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Dogs of Chernobyl – Abandoned In The Zone. Post continues after video.
But perhaps outside the world of the silver screen finds its most bizarre and intriguing success: Chernobyl site visits by morbidly fascinated tourists have risen by 50 per cent, according to Victor Korol, the head of SoloEast, a company that gives tours of the site, as reported by The New York Times.
Welcome to the world of dark tourism.
The concept of dark tourism was brought to notoriety by the Netflix series, The Dark Tourist in 2018. Host, David Farrier, travelled the world visiting sites historically linked to death and tragedy, including: Tomioka, a Japanese town evacuated during the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and Milwaukee, USA, for a walking tour of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s murder locations.
Also known as black tourism or grief tourism, Farrier describes it as “holidays in war zones, disaster sites, and other offbeat destinations.” And although its awareness has increased since the documentary it has been an industry steadily developing over the past decade.
A senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania’s School of Humanities, Dr Robert Clark told ABC: “After the 2000s, dark travel started to become popular and you started seeing places being marketed based on their horror, trauma and even history of catastrophe.”
Described in a wide variety of ways from voyeuristic to an opportunity to grieve publicly, dark tourism can be a moral and ethical minefield, but regardless of this it seems to be more and more popular the world over.
In fact, it now seems the hottest ticket in tourism, or at least dark tourism is a visit to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Pripyat and the site of Chernobyl itself.
There are a range of tour companies operating day trips into the area for intrigued and curious tourists. Usually paying around $100, they board a bus in the Ukraine capital, Kiev, and travel 120 kilometres to the centre of the nuclear disaster, the town of Pripyat where they find the melancholy abandoned carousel, memorials to the victims and stray dogs wandering the deserted streets.
They also visit the infamous reactor number four at the now protected plant of Chernobyl itself. Many tourists have been criticised for taking selfies on the tour and posting them to Instagram.
Although these tours have been running for years, it wasn’t until the series first aired in May that it became so immensely popular. In fact, there has been a reported rise of 40 per cent in bookings to visit the site of world’s most nuclear accident.