The failed summer season in the Crimea is often mentioned in connection with the military presence, or rather the occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. This situation also affected the most western region of Ukraine, in particular the presence or rather absence of Russian tourists here.
We already wrote in the January article that the first signs were noticable on New Year and Christmas holidays. Then, thanks to the high season, they managed to quickly find those, who agreed to take rooms, Russian tourists had refused from, and thus to avoid losses. However, over the last month, since on the streets of Kyiv bullets killed the "Heaven’s Hundred," the situation has worsened – more tourists from Russia refuse from previously booked rooms.
Uzhgorod.in specifically went to the most popular among tourists district of Transcarpathia to ask local owners how the tension in Russian-Ukrainian relations impacts on their business. And also to talk to tourists themselves, especially Russian-speaking ones, who, despite everything, still come to Transcarpathia. Some accents of the spring tourist season in the article on Svalyava district.
Russian accent from the point of view of Russian-speaking Ukrainians
Igor Ion comes from Odesa, but has been doing business in Transcarpathia for five years now. And he is not going to shut up the shop "I’m not afraid of anyone.I am here at home – Igor says with a grin. – All the information they disseminate in Ukraine is a distorted information. Those who visited Transcarpathia think differently than the Russian media present it. Many Russians come here to rest. It is a very good place. Come!"
Oleksandr Statsenko from the city of Enerhodar has been coming to rest in Svalyava district for the fourth consecutive year. He says about Transcarpathia simply, "He who has seen it once will never forget it."
The man is sure that Russian media do their nasty thing and therefore Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Russians themselves have wrong idea about the situation in the western regions of Ukraine: "A person who wants to know the truth seeks information from various sources.Especially, since today there is the Internet, which, to say frankly, is the most trustful. And a reasonable person makes their conlusions and predictions accordingly."
A pensioner Volodymyr Demchenko once worked at Zaporizhzhya NPP, now is in retirement. The company pays most of the voucher cost, the rest (up to 20%, which is about 2,000 UAH, depending on the cost) the man pays himself.
Volodymyr is convinced: "This whole crisis, I think, is a Russian propaganda, hysteria in the press, from Putin.I think the Russian people will realize later that Ukrainians are friendly and they should not be afraid to come here. Here, all is well and safe. And Ukraine must be united and it’s worth fighting for."
Greetings from UAE
Fedir Murashov hails from… the Soviet Union. Born in Almaty, for the last 18 years, he has been building his business (by the way, quite successfully) in the United Arab Emirates. To be specific, in its largest city of Dubai. The man with a constant smile on his face and with a sense of satisfaction from life, for the first time came to the Diagnostic Center in Svalyava district to relax for two weeks.
We asked Fedir whether he was feeling in danger, having arrived in Ukraine and Transcarpathia, and this is what he said: "We like it here.Climate, people. It’s very good. And the girls are beautiful – laughs – And most importantly, it is safe. Who has doubts should come here. First we arrived to Kyiv. No problems there. We had a tour on the Maidan, saw everything. Then, from Kyiv we travelled by car. We arrived in a few hours. Everything is absolutely quiet. Wonderful city, wonderful country."
We asked every Russian tourist, whom we met during the time spent in Svalyava district, about safety and danger. And seriously asked whether they had happened to see any "Nazis" or armed men. Tourists would first stop talking for a moment, and then… laugh. This was their response.
The trend to losses
Russian-speaking tourists are still coming to Transcarpathia. But less. The director of the sanatorium Vasyl Zhuk, whom we asked about "Russian" trends in tourism, gives some figures: "In different seasons, numbers of Russian tourists differ.In summer, it is 20% of the total number. 5% are from CIS countries. In spring and autumn season, it is around 15%. In winter, up to 25% of Russians. The downward trend has been observed in the last month. Tourists from Russia, who call us, are mostly concerned about their personal safety. But in Transcarpathia there is nothing to fear. Because, here it is all quiet as always."
Those 15-20 per cent are now lost by owners of hotels, resorts and restaurants. A few small establishments and restaurants were closed for a month or two, waiting for their tourists.
Those who provide a range of services – hotel and meals, excursions and preventive and therapeutic treatments – will benefit in this situation the most. Loyal customers and experience is also a "plus" during the crisis time. Those who provide "limited" services are less likely to make profit.
"Of course, everyone worries about their business, customers.Therefore, everyone wants tourists to keep coming – Vasyl Zhuk continues. – We all have positive attitude. Transcarpathians gladly accept visitors, regardless of nationality or language. The people are sincere. So, here they definitely have nothing to fear."
The Deputy Director on Hospitality Management of a tourist complex Natalia Hrytsenko added: "Our people are very tolerant and very friendly.Therefore, there is no danger for tourists. Here, we have visitors from all over Ukraine, from Belarus, of course, from Russia. There are visitors from Israel and the United States. The geography is very extensive."
Business of the future
However, Svalyava district is being actively developed even now. We saw it with our own eyes. In many villages, workers are finishing constructions of tourist sites started last year or earlier.
Because it is known that tourism is the matter of not the current day, but of the prospect. Therefore, those who, despite the tension keep building, have hope for the future.
And there is another high season ahead – Easter-May.