Thanks To HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ Instagram Influencers Are Now Flocking To The Danger Zone

A 40 percent spike has been noted in tourism to the area since HBO's series started airing in May.

Tourists snap photos outside the former Energetika cultural center in the ghost town of Pripyat not far from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on August 19, 2017 in Pripyat, Ukraine
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A 40 percent spike has been noted in tourism to the area since HBO's series started airing in May.

HBO’s limited miniseries, Chernobyl, based on the horrific disaster at the Chernobyl Power Plant in 1986, has become a surprise hit. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the series has managed to eclipse mega hits such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos on IMDb’s most popular film and TV chart. However, the renewed interest in the disaster at the Chernobyl Power Plant has spawned a worrying trend.

According to BGR, there has been a surge in Instagram influencers and thrillseekers traveling to Ukraine in order to snap a shot of themselves in or near the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Julia Baessler, who has more than 317,000 followers on Instagram, recently posted some images of herself near Pripyat, one of the towns closest to the Chernobyl Power Plant, where an explosion on April 25 and 26 caused absolute devastation. One image shows Julia perched on a ledge at the Polissya hotel, with the abandoned town of Pripyat seen in the distance.

“Looking over the abandoned and overgrown city of Pripyat is truly an otherworldly experience, it’s as if everyone on Earth perished long ago and you’re the only one that somehow survived,” Baessler wrote in the caption.

Another image shows Baessler looking out over the famous Ferris wheel, with the New Safe Confinement (NSC) covering for Reactor 4 in the distance.

Chernobyl has always been a tourist hotspot for those so inclined to dangerous adventures. However, according to Reuters, there has been a 40 percent spike in business recently. In particular, this increase has occurred since HBO’s Chernobyl started airing in May.

Sergiy Ivanchuk, who is the director of SoloEast tours, has seen a 30 percent increase in tours since May, compared to the same time last year. The renewed interest in Chernobyl doesn’t appear to be waning either, with Ivanchuk stating that bookings are also up for June, July, and August.

Chernobyl Tour’s director, Yaroslav Yemelianenko, is also seeing a similar rise of 30-40 percent since Chernobyl aired on HBO. His tour company offers tourists the chance to visit “locations depicted in the series, including the bunker where the initial decision by local officials not to evacuate after the explosion was made.”

During these tours, participants are also taken to Reactor 4, where they can take a closer look at the NSC, which covers the original sarcophagus. They are also allowed to walk around Pripyat and eat at a local Chernobyl restaurant. The town of Chernobyl is actually located much further away from the power plant and some areas within the exclusion site are now deemed safe to visit.

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Craig Mazin, who created Chernobyl for HBO, is also one of those that have visited the location.

“To walk where they walked felt so strange, and also being under that same piece of sky you start to feel a little closer, in a sense, to who they were,” Mazin said.

While some areas are now considered safe, a Belarusian study estimates that the total cancer deaths that will occur as a result of the Chernobyl disaster will total 115,000. This is different from the estimated 9,000 deaths anticipated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The limited miniseries, Chernobyl, is currently airing on HBO.