More Tourists Visiting Ukraine Recently

KIEV, Ukraine -- Whether green or traditional, tourism in Ukraine appears to be rising steadily. In 2005, 17.6 million tourists visited Ukraine, Ukraine’s State Tourism Administration reported on its website.

Cape Fiolent, one of the most picturesque travel destinations in Crimea, is located near the port city of Sevastopol. Situated in this vicinity, called Balaklava, are the remains of the ancient monastery of St. George.

This was a 13 percent increase from 2004, or an additional 3.1 million visitors. This trend should continue, with a projected 19.6 million visitors expected to come to Ukraine in 2006, the STA reported.

According to industry experts and tourism agencies, growth in 2005 was due in part to practical considerations, such as Ukraine’s abolition of its visa regime with neighboring EU countries and its gradually improving infrastructure, as well as subjective factors like the Orange Revolution and Eurovision-2005, which most likely aroused the interest of some of Ukraine’s visitors last year.

That travelers from the EU, Canada and the United States no longer require visas to come to Ukraine has resulted in a palpable increase in tourists from these countries. This is evident not only in the statistics provided by the STA, but by increased business for Ukrainian tourism agencies in 2005.

Slovakia, Poland and Romania provided an additional 155,000, 1.7 million and 64,000 visitors to Ukraine, respectively, in 2005. This marks a 98, 95 and 65 percent year-on-year increase from these countries, in that order.

Thirty-four percent more Germans came to Ukraine in 2005 (189,546) and the number of Israeli tourists increased by 15 percent (51,186).

Overall, tourists to Ukraine are now more frequently opting to travel independently, making their own arrangements, according to STA statistics, rather than going through travel agencies on organized tours, although tourism agencies and operators providing package tours have also reported growth in the last year.

Booking season, every season

Oleksandr Malyovany, incoming tourism manager for Bytsko, a company with a staff of around 90 that primarily services clients coming to Ukraine from abroad, noted that his company saw 10 percent growth in tourists arriving in the country on package tours in 2005 and expects close to 20 percent growth in 2006.

Roughly 30 percent of Bytsko’s business comes from abroad. The remaining 70 percent is usually corporate clients based in Ukraine, for whom the company organizes conferences throughout Ukraine – from the Carpathian Mountains to Crimea.

Bytsko’s foreign clients travel primarily to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Crimea, the southern port city of Odessa and the architecturally rich western city of Lviv on organized tours and excursions, and stay in four- and five-star accommodations, which are still insufficient in number, especially given that there are only two five-star hotels in Ukraine – Premier Palace in Kyiv and Donbass Palace in the southeastern industrial city of Donetsk.

There is an adequate number of three- and four-star hotels in Odessa, Malyovany said, adding that the city’s tourism infrastructure is developing effectively. However, there are far too few good hotels in Crimea, and as a result, prices for rooms and the quality of the service rarely coincide.

Malyovany said his company books rooms for tour groups well in advance, most frequently in the winter months. Booking tour groups one to two months before the peak summer season, not to mention individual clients, is quite problematic, he added.

Green and clean

Although traditional tourism still predominates in Ukraine, other forms of tourism have begun taking off.

While traditional tourism requires significant investments in hotels, roads and transportation infrastructure, such as rail lines, green, eco and extreme tourism require much less capital to flourish. Moreover, for budget travelers and international students coming to Ukraine, a network of less expensive hostels is also being developed.

Rural green tourism is aimed at promoting relaxation in Ukraine’s diverse countryside, where tourists can rent rooms in private village homes and try their hand at everything, from gardening to picking mushrooms in the woods.

The development of green tourism in Ukraine is also part of a concerted effort by the Ukrainian government to economically revive Ukraine’s rural areas, which with their aging population, can no longer effectively sustain agricultural production.

The Union to Promote Rural Tourism in Ukraine, a public non-profit organization founded in 1996, lists on its website private homes available to rent in most of Ukraine’s regions. Interested parties state the prices they are willing to pay per night with a meal, when they order.

STA Deputy Director Serhiy Syomkin said that developing rural green tourism does not require tremendous investment because all that’s really needed is a building with “at least minimal comforts… given that accommodations at every price have a buyer.”

Moreover, some of these homes provide a greater variety of accoutrements, including washing machines, garages, and televisions, and are located near some of Ukraine’s more popular summer tourist spots, especially in Chernihiv, which has an impressive landscape of churches, and the mountainous Carpathian regions.

They offer lower rates than hotels, and often provide cooking and other services, although the primary objective of green tourists is to get away from the city, Syomkin said.

He added that it’s difficult to gauge how many people travel to Ukrainian villages to vacation each year, because this sector of the economy legally falls under the domain of agriculture, as opposed to tourism. Nonetheless, his agency is currently working on a mechanism to measure this statistically.

Friendly hostels

Tourists coming to Ukraine looking for hostels will also have more to choose from in the near future.

Several hostelling associations in Ukraine are actively promoting ecotourism, drawing in younger tourists with smaller budgets.

The Ukrainian Youth Tourist Association, a non-profit NGO, is developing a network of hostels in Ukraine, of which they currently manage six.

The UYTA’s hostels provide beds and basic services. Rates at its hostel Venetsiya, in the village of Komsomolsk, Poltava region, which should open in May 2006, start at Hr 40 ($8) a night, said Oleksandr Faynin, president of UYTA.

In April 2006, UYTA opened two new hostels in the Carpathian Kosiv region - Zermatt and St. Moritz - both named after Swiss cities, with 36 and 64 beds, respectively. UYTA signs agreements with the owners of these buildings, who then agree to allow the organization to use its facilities either year round or during the peak summer and winter seasons, depending on the location.

UYTA's aim is to develop socially-driven ecotourism, said Faynin, and by hiring Ukrainian students with English-language skills to work in the hostels during the summer months, the association is attempting to draw travelers from neighboring European countries.

In 2004, the UYTA had just 400 visitors to its accommodations and tours. However, in 2005, with the establishment of its network of six hostels, this number grew to approximately 3,000 visitors, coming primarily from Germany, France and the UK, but also from as far as the U.S., Japan and Australia.

Requests for green, as well as extreme tours are rare for Bytsko, Malyovany said, adding that this is primarily due to the country’s poor tourism and travel infrastructure.

However, Malyovany said that if a request for a green or ecotourism package came from one of their many 20 foreign operators, “they would do everything possible to accommodate the request and meet the client’s wishes.”

Syomkin said tourism agencies and operators reported Hr 2.7 billion ($540 million) in revenues in 2005 for their services, a 26 percent increase from 2005. Moreover, by the STA’s estimates, tourists spent close to Hr 37.7 billion ($7.5 billion) in Ukraine in 2005 on hotels, transportation, food, excursions and other travel-related purchases.

Syomkin added that if Ukraine and Poland win their joint bid to host the World Cup in 2012, this could provide the necessary impetus to rapidly improve Ukraine’s tourism infrastructure, especially in building the sorely needed three- to five-star hotels. Ukraine’s government, he said, has allocated Hr 15 billion ($3 billion) for the improvement of roads and railways over the next five years.

Source: Kyiv Post


Aya said…
Hi! I'll be living in Ukraine for about 2 years.
what would you recommend to bring with me from the USA? what do you think I'll need that I won't be able to buy in Ukraine?
Anonymous said…
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how said…
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