Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

12.6 percent more tourists visited Ukraine from January to September this year compared to last year, according to new numbers. 

The pandemic has taken its toll on tourism worldwide, and it is no different in Ukraine, where tourism came to a complete halt last Spring. However, this year, tourists have started to return to Ukraine, showing new numbers from the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, according to Ukrinform

The numbers show that three million foreign visitors visited Ukraine between January and September, 12.6 percent more than in the same period last year. 

“The first nine months of 2021 were marked by a gradual resumption of tourist flows, both in Ukraine and in the world as a whole. There was a significant reorganization of tourist routes and an increase in domestic travel. We note a rise in the number of tourists to Ukraine by 12.6% compared with the first three quarters of 2020. In 2021, more than 3 million foreigners have come to Ukraine so far,” reads a statement by the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine on Facebook. 

According to the agency, most tourists came from Moldova, Russia, Poland, Romania, and Belarus. Together, they made up more than half of the total number of tourists. The numbers also show that 70 percent of the visitors were Europeans, while 25.5 percent came from Asia and only a tiny fraction from other parts of the world. 

In Asia, most tourists come from India, from which almost 35,000 tourists found their way to Ukraine. However, despite the increase in tourism this year, the sector is still affected by the pandemic situation in Ukraine, which has made the EU remove Ukraine from the green list of countries that are safe to travel to. 

EU removes Ukraine from the green list after Covid-19 spike

Hope to boost tourism

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously said that he has a plan to boost tourism in Ukraine, which includes improving tourism in Chernobyl. Recently, Ukraine and the EU also signed the so-called Open Skies agreement, which will make it cheaper and easier to operate flights between the two parties. 

Open Skies deal can boost tourism in Ukraine

As the agreement cut costs, flights might become cheaper, and that more airlines will enter the Ukrainian market. Recently, Ryanair also decided to expand its presence in Ukraine with several more routes, coming as the final deal seemed underway. Wizz Air also expanded with 26 new routes into Ukraine recently.

“There will be more routes from Europe to Ukraine and vice versa, at significantly lower prices. This will give more people the opportunity to visit our country affordably. I also expect tourists to be able to travel more conveniently within Ukraine if foreign low-cost airlines also choose to create domestic routes,” said Yulia Tolkachova, who is a sales manager at tour agency Kyiv Insiders to Emerging Europe.

The Open Skies agreement has been underway since 2013 but ran into trouble due to the conflict between the UK and Spain over the status of Gibraltar. However, that obstacle was removed as the UK left the EU. The deal makes it possible for foreign airlines to fly to and from Ukrainian airports without any restrictions, which is an improvement from earlier, where airlines would need approval.