'Chernobyl' fans urged to show respect at nuclear site

After a spike in visitor numbers following the success of the hit HBO show, the writer of the miniseries asks travellers to show some respect while visiting

TOPSHOT - A visitor takes a picture at a wreckage of a bus in the ghost city of Pripyat during a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone on June 7, 2019. HBO’s hugely popular television series “Chernobyl” has renewed interest around the world on Ukraine’s 1986 nuclear disaster with authorities reporting a 30% increase of tourist demands to visit the affected area and tourist operators forecasting that number of tourists visiting the site may double this year up to 150.000 persons / AFP / Genya SAVILOV
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The writer of the hit HBO drama Chernobyl has urged travellers to show respect if they visit the nuclear site in Ukraine.

The success of the five-part miniseries about the 1986 power plant disaster in what was formerly the Soviet Union has led to a rise in tourists visiting the abandoned town of Pripyat.

Craig Mazin, the writer of the show, has taken to Twitter to caution about showing respect when visiting the Ukrainian destination.

A Chernobyl tour agency had previously reported a 40 per cent rise in tour bookings to the Exclusion Zone since the television series began.

The show follows the aftermath of the nuclear reactor explosion at the power plant on April 26, 1986. It it has been praised for not glamourising the disaster. The same cannot be said for the tourists flocking to the site.

epaselect epa07633614 A visitor takes a selfie with an abandoned bus during a tour in Chernobyl, Ukraine, 07 June 2019. The miniseries Chernobyl (2019) made by HBO depicts the explosion`s aftermath, the vast clean-up operation and the subsequent inquiry. The success of a U.S. television miniseries examining the world`s worst nuclear accident has driven up the number of tourists wanting to see the plant and the ghostly abandoned town of Prypyat as local media report.  EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
A visitor takes a selfie with an abandoned bus during a tour in Chernobyl. EPA

Some of the pictures posted on Instagram of these visits have been deemed distasteful as visitors pose in provocative or irreverent poses at a place where so many people lost their lives.

One woman posted a picture of herself at Chernobyl wearing a decontamination suit stripped down to below her waist.

Another posted a picture where she posed in front of a mirror. The picture caption reads: “even in an abandoned ghost town your mascara can’t be smudged."

And yet another post by an Instagram user at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone contained pictures where she pretends to run from a train and mimics drinking tea with friends in what was formerly a children's camp in the ghostly woods of the abandoned village.

Other Instagram users were quick to reprimand such pictures with @lois_grieve writing under one post: "Disrespectful much...tragedy should not be a source of profit/fame for you."

The disaster site has been open to tourists since 2011 when it was deemed safe to visit for short periods of time.  The village of Pripyat remains uninhabited because of the effects of residual radiation.

In recent years, travellers have embraced a trend called 'dark tourism' where visitors go to locations with a tumultuous past.

Last year, journalist David Farrier created a docu-series with Netflix entitled Dark Tourist. His travels on the show are based around death or tragedy. Farrier visits Japan's Fukushima, takes part in a mock illegal border crossing from Mexico and participates in a tour in Los Angeles about serial killer Charles Manson.