Ukraine Drops Visas for Eurovision

LONDON, England -- Ukraine has dropped visa requirements for visitors from Britain and other European Union countries for the period between May 1 and September 1. It is hoped that this will boost tourist numbers and make it easier for those wanting to visit the country as it prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest.

The move has been welcomed by specialist operators to the former Soviet Republic, who predict that Ukraine could become a popular destination for those seeking more adventurous holidays.

"Until now, getting visas for Ukraine has been both costly - averaging about £50-£60 a go - and time-consuming, taking up to 14 working days," said Neil Taylor, director of east Europe specialists Regent Holidays. "People wanting to explore the former Communist bloc have, not surprisingly, gone for easier options, such as Budapest or Krakow. Now they might look further afield."

Interest in Ukraine was fired by last year's "Orange Revolution", in which the old guard was swept from power after massive protests led to the election of the progressive Viktor Yushchenko as president.

The country will also be in the limelight on May 21 when Kiev is the setting for the finals of this year's Eurovision Song Contest. In addition to the capital, other emerging tourist attractions in Ukraine include the western city of Lviv, the Black Sea port of Odessa and the beaches and mountains of Crimea.