After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Bucha, a town near Kyiv that was not previously known for tourism, became a popular travel destination.
This was caused by photos that circulated around the world thanks to the media. According to news outlet Business Insider, the cost of such a trip is around €250. Companies also guarantee an English-speaking guide and conversations with the local population, and emphasize that visitors only travel using “safe routes.”
“Usually they come alone, sometimes hitchhiking,” said Jakub Stasiak, a journalist and volunteer currently in Ukraine. “They go to destroyed places, for example, to hear explosions and take a photo for Instagram,” he added.
In his opinion, “this is incredibly stupid, but still attracts people who like adrenaline.”
Some come under the pretext of providing humanitarian aid, but they don’t bring real help, just small supplies. “They’ll bring a pack of diapers, but what they really want to see is the war with their own eyes,” said Stasiak.
How much income does war tourism generate for Ukrainians themselves? It’s hard to say. Stasiak believes there are many fixers in the country who help foreign journalists move around. “Ninety-nine percent of them work for reporters,” said Stasiak.
Some also have offers for war tourists. The journalist mentions death roads. These are shelled routes, such as the only road leading to a specific location. However, there is no shortage of willing participants. As Stasiak noted, at one point there was a fixer offering such tours to Russian-occupied Lysychansk for around $200.