It’s a country that has been rocked by war since 2014, but this hasn’t stopped Aussie travellers from flocking to Ukraine, according to the latest Skyscanner data.
The Australia travel trends report revealed Ukraine’s capital city Kiev was the must-see destination for 2019, with a staggering 129 per cent year-on-year growth in search shares.
The capital city was up 62 places, gaining a spot in the top 150 most-searched-for international destinations for the first time.
According to the report, it’s gaining popularity with travellers because it offers a much friendlier welcoming than it did when it was part of the Soviet empire.
“You must visit Kiev because of its Parisian-style boulevards, architectural Byzantine masterpieces, Ukrainian dumplings and authentic chicken Kiev,” the report said.
Other notable mentions in the report reveal Bali was the No.1 travel destination for tourists in 2018, with London coming in second and Auckland third.
Ukraine: ‘A hidden gem’
Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations chairman Stefan Romaniw said Kiev was becoming increasingly popular, with travellers drawn to its cultural charm.
“It’s a hidden gem that’s now being able to glisten as a popular tourist spot for its incredible architecture, food, history and entertainment,” Mr Romaniw told The New Daily.
He said the political conflict did not deter tourists from travelling to Ukraine.
“We wish that the issue of conflict wasn’t there, but people have understood that there is so much more to Ukraine than a war zone,” he said.
Mr Romaniw said travellers were also visiting other popular regions in Ukraine.
“People are visiting the Carpathian Mountains, Lviv and Dnipro to take advantage of what these beautiful cities have to offer,” he said.
“There’s also spectacular beaches, churches and museums, which are rich with history.
“We’re also seeing young tourists travel to Ukraine like never before as it’s relatively cheap and it’s becoming a real party destination.”
‘Spike in tourists’
Brett Goulston, owner of Blue Dot Travel at St Leonards, NSW, said there was a spike in tourists visiting Ukraine.
“We’ve had strong bookings for it as we take people to the caucasus countries and offer Ukraine as an add-on to the tour and we’re seeing that most travellers are taking advantage of this,” Mr Goulston told The New Daily.
“It’s an intriguing destination for a lot of people as it’s quite mainstream but it’s still rich in culture and very much inexpensive,” he said.
Mr Goulston said he found tourists weren’t concerned about travelling to Ukraine in the midst of a political conflict.
“The sort of person that goes to that part of the world isn’t deterred by conflict as they feel that if you want to travel the world then you have to take a few risks,” he said.
Other Ukraine highlights
Another Ukrainian claim to historical fame is Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster.
Tours of the area have become a popular “dark tourist” destination at the risk of the traveller, as radiation levels still remain dangerously high.
Ukraine has seven world heritage-listed sites, including the 11th century Saint-Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and the ancient and primeval beech forests of the Carpathians.
Tourists are also flocking to Arsenalna station, Kiev, which is the world’s deepest station at 105 metres below ground.