After the grand opening of the tourist season in early May, Kherson region is living in anticipation of a full-fledged, profitable season. Residents are hoping that its resort towns, nature reserves, national parks, and beautiful pristine nature landscapes will attract visitors. However, what they are noting today is not an increase in tourist numbers, but a decrease. Staff of the Askania-Nova biosphere reserve, located in Chaplynka raion of Kherson oblast, states that it had 20,000 visitors in 2013 by the end of May, while these days, the number is just 6,000. The decrease has come about due to a troubled situation in eastern Ukraine and fuel price rise, the reserve’s administration says.
“Of course, the visitor flow has fallen to a fraction of its former strength. At this time last year, we saw columns of buses carrying schoolkids and other tourists that made a long stop here. In previous years, we usually received kids from Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts. May was a busy time for tour operators, because people liked to stay here for two or three days, to explore thoroughly our place. What we have today is just a few groups coming per day. It is a shame because it is all calm and peaceful out here, while the reserve’s natural world is pleasing our visitors with its extraordinary beauty,” Askania-Nova’s head of environmental propaganda Svitlana Vesela told The Day. “We offer our guests exciting walking tours of the arboretum and the zoo, where one can see many rare and beautiful animals, quite a few of which are now caring for their young. Birds are still featuring their colorful feathers as they have not molted yet, and diverse flora is pleasing the eye with its bouquet of aromas and rich greenery. We also opened a new horse-drawn carriage route this year, called the “Landscapes of the Arboretum.” It is a comfortable tour for six to eight people. Unfortunately, no tours are possible at the moment of the Great Chapli Depression, where free-ranging herds of bison, horses, and deer roam the wild steppe. To be able to bring people there, we need a special presidential decree and a number of documents providing for change in the designation of this tract. Therefore, we wait for the election to end and our issue to be resolved as soon as possible, for this part of the reserve is very much a favorite with our visitors.”
Askania-Nova’s administration hopes that the visitor numbers will jump soon, as the sea will warm attracting more tourists to southern Ukraine.