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Struggle in Ukraine: Tourism specialists relate their experiences | DW Journey | DW

Natalia Vlasenko liked exhibiting vacationers her metropolis of Odesa and its environment. For the reason that battle broke out in Ukraine, nevertheless, she has spent her time serving to refugees and translating for international media touring to Odesa.

The lives of Natalia’s colleagues within the Ukrainian tourism trade have additionally modified radically since Russia invaded in February. She gathered their private experiences and shared with us her and their tales. They’ve been edited by DW for brevity and readability.

Earlier than the battle, Natalia Vlasenko ran sightseeing excursions of Odesa

‘Not the time for journey articles’

Natalia Vlasenko, tour information in Odesa:

“I had so many expectations and plans for 2022 after pandemic-related restrictions in tourism have been being progressively lifted and relaxed. I used to work loads with teams from the UK, US, Germany, France, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands. I’ve solely heat recollections from that point: I used to be doing work I really like, exhibiting my metropolis to vacationers, acquainting them with Odesa’s historical past, tradition and delicacies. 

However on February 24 the battle began, and all my plans collapsed. I haven’t got any tour guiding work now. I used to work as a journey journalist for an Odesa cultural web site, I misplaced this work too. Now’s simply not the time for journey articles.

I am having to search for new work alternatives, as I have to earn a residing. In the mean time I’ve discovered part-time employment as a translator and assistant to the international press: many journalists from totally different nations come to Odesa to cowl the information. My information of three international languages — English, French, and Polish — helps me.

Travel guide Natalia Vlasenko and a soldier in front of a destroyed airport in Mykolaiv

Together with a soldier as information, Vlasenko (left) and Romanian journalists filmed a destroyed airport in Mykolaiv

Additionally, I volunteer for a information challenge concerning the battle known as We Are Ukraine, and each night I work as a textual content editor.

Some colleagues of mine determined to remain in Ukraine, whereas others have quickly moved to different nations. I spoke to a few of them, translated their tales and wish to share their experiences to present an impression how the battle modified every little thing in our nation — together with the tourism sector.”

Vacationer sector has vital position in instances of battle

Ivan Liptuga, president of Nationwide Tourism Group of Ukraine:

“Simply a few weeks earlier than the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the worldwide media was already overtly discussing the very actual threat of an all-out battle, the overwhelming majority of individuals didn’t imagine within the chance of such a situation. Throughout that point we obtained many questions from international media retailers, and along with the World Tourism Community determined to carry a Zoom assembly, which was attended by tour operators, and hoteliers, to reassure our worldwide companions that every little thing was calm and underneath management in Ukraine.

Three people smiling into the camera at the 26th Ukraine International Travel and Tourism Exhibition

Ivan Liptuga (proper) on the twenty sixth Ukraine Worldwide Journey and Tourism Exhibition in Kyiv

Then, 12 days later, every little thing modified: the battle started. Our group initiated the Scream for Ukraine marketing campaign to attract the eye to the horrible tragedy that has begun to unfold.

From the beginning of the disaster, our colleagues, in addition to tour operators, hoteliers and restaurateurs switched their actions from tourism to supporting the army. The hospitality trade is utilizing its well-established community to offer catering and help for the self-defense items. Others helped refugees escape from harmful areas and depart the nation to seek out security overseas. Hoteliers within the southern and western areas organized the transit and housing of refugees.

This expertise confirmed how vital the position of the tourism sector is, not solely in peacetime and for advertising and marketing the nation as a vacationer attraction, but additionally in disaster conditions.” 

An Orthodox church in Kyiv

Kyiv has many stunning sights, however for now tourism will not be an possibility

Vacationers anticipated to return when it is ‘utterly protected’

Julia Kulik, founder and CEO of JC Journey tour operator:

“It’s clear the battle killed the complete tourism enterprise. On the finish of 2021, there have been respectable bookings for 2022, we have been relying on an excellent yr — we have been glad that restoration had lastly begun after COVID-19.

However by early 2022, as tensions grew, we obtained increasingly cancellations. Then the battle started, and the vacationer trade died. I needed to go to the Netherlands with my daughter. For me and my husband, her life, well being, and future are a precedence. I discovered a job, additionally in tourism.

Julia Kulik with her daughter in the Netherlands

Julia Kulik is now residing together with her daughter within the Netherlands

Tourism in Ukraine will certainly get better fairly rapidly after the battle is over and troops have been withdrawn. Vacationers will return as quickly as it’s utterly protected. New places shall be added, as there’s absolutely going to be curiosity in such cities as Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, and Mariupol. The one factor is that it will not be very quickly. Ideally in a yr could be the most effective case, though I’m being very optimistic.”

Struggle upends plans for future 

Anna Nikolaieva, skilled tour information:

“Lviv was the most well-liked metropolis in Ukraine with vacationers. 1,5 million company visited Lviv in 2021. Tour guides have been making ready for the brand new spring and summer season season of 2022.

I used to be engaged on a brand new web site and new routes round Lviv throughout the off-season. Struggle demolished all my plans and I made the choice to depart Ukraine. I’m in Warsaw now.

Anna Nikolajeva's virtual Ukraine experience, a shot of many people sharing a Zoom screen

Anna Nikolajeva has created a digital Ukraine expertise

When COVID-19 began I started promoting a web-based expertise known as Cultural Journey Round Ukraine on Airbnb. I’m now operating this digital tour on Zoom. And because the battle began, I’ve spoken with Google, Intel, LinkedIn, Pfizer, Airbnb, Pinterest, KPMG Canada, Amazon Studios, Salesforce and others all over the world about Ukraine. Individuals understood that they’d little or no information about Ukraine and I will help them know extra. I hope that the battle will end quickly and I can return to Lviv.”

Ukraine underneath assault

Maria Yukhnovets, journey skilled, head of enterprise journey for Sputnik Kyiv DMC:

“Worldwide tourism has all the time been very delicate to every kind of world occasions — whether or not it is a pandemic or a political disaster in any vacation spot. As of January 2022, with growing media overage a few doable Russian invasion, many governments determined to challenge journey warnings for ​Ukraine. ​As a lot as we understood and revered these choices, we additionally acknowledged that this was detrimental to the 2022 vacationer season.

The nation’s economic system and virtually all its industries have been shut down. There isn’t any tourism — home, inbound, outbound — the sky is closed, Ukraine is underneath assault.

A woman with a lot of humanitarian aid in Kyiv

Maria Yukhnovets now helps acquire and distribute help to needy folks in Kyiv and the broader area

We do notice that worldwide tourism shall be one of many final sectors to restart after the battle in Ukraine ends.​ ​Rebuilding infrastructure, resuming flights and constructing confidence shall be vital for tourism to get better in Ukraine.​ ​We very a lot hope that it will occur in 2023.​

In the mean time we attempting to be helpful to our nation, so we’re all appearing as volunteers. Offering meals, serving to homeless folks, aiding refugees, evacuating folks, supporting the armed forces of Ukraine — these are each day routines of virtually each Ukrainian, together with me. I have to help my nation, of this I am positive. 

We do hope that Ukraine will rise like a phoenix from the ashes after these exhausting instances. And sure, we’re positive that after this battle, hundreds of thousands of individuals won’t ever ask once more: Ukraine? The place is that nation?”

Edited by: Susan Bonney-Cox

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