Ukraine Russian Tourism Ties: Love, Peace, and Hate

Ivan Liptuga, Head of the National Tourism Organization of Ukraine came with a team of top travel and tourism leaders to discuss and share the current situation and state of the travel and tourism industry in Ukraine. The World Tourism Network in cooperation with eTurboNews live-streamed this session to the world.

“When I look out of my window everything is peaceful, and we really don’t think that much about a Russian threat here. The world cares and according to many in the international press, Ukraine is already invaded by Russians. This is far from the truth.”

Pavlo Shermeta, a former minister of economics and professor at the Kyiv school of economics said he understands the worry of the world to allow travel to Ukraine. He says Ukraine appreciates the friendship received every by so many in the world and thinks Ukraine tourism will have a great future after this crisis but agrees it may not be the time today to travel.

Dr. Taleb Rifai
Dr. Taleb Rifai, former UNWTO Sec Gen

Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reflected on his visits to Ukraine when he was in charge of the UN organization. He said: “I am from Jordan, a country where war clouds and conflicts are routine. Tourism will help and he encourages people to travel now and show support. He is convinced traveling to Ukraine is safe even at this time.

Dr. Taleb also warned not to blame the news media for reporting about the situation.

Participants talked about their regions, food, festivals. The overall situation seems to be relaxed and no one seriously thinks something terrible is going to happen.
Among those were:

Ivan Liptuga, National Tourism Organization of Ukraine
Ivan Liptuga, National Tourism Organization of Ukraine
  • Andriy Dligach — futurologist, economist, visioner.
  • Maria Yukhnovets — President of Association of incoming tour operators of Ukraine
  • Natalia Soboleva — Vice President of the Association of incoming tour operators of Ukraine
  • Marina Radova — Head of tourism in Kyiv city administration (Capital)
  • Kateryna Lytvyn — Head of tourism of Chernihiv tourism department (North Ukraine)

The United States, the UK, and Israel is urging their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately. The Russian Government-backed RT News channel is mocking the West for escalating the situation and confirming, again and again, Russia had no intention to start a war or create a conflict. The reason for the military build-up at the Ukraine-Russia border however is not explained.

The French president just returned from talks in Kyiv and Moscow and agrees that there was no reason to expect an invasion at this time.

Participants today emphasized that Ukraine is a peaceful country. This is true to a degree but with an ongoing armed conflict in the Eastern part of the country in the cities Donetsk and Luhansk, there are certain hotspots in that country. Even the Ukrainian Government warns against travel to the Donbas region of the country.

Reactions to today’s WTN session mention:

  • Our heart and support go to Ukraine Tourism may all the challenges be overcome & Kindness will always prevail. Glory To Ukraine Tourism was the comment from Mudi Astuti, Chairman of the World Tourism Network Chapter in Indonesia.
  • An outstanding presentation today — everyone is so positive as is the travel industry for travel to Ukraine. I visited Ukraine possibly 12 years ago and there are so many more historical places to see.  It would be a crime to humanity if Russia invades. Let’s all pray for a withdrawal. Benita Lubic CTC President Transeair Travel LLC Washington DC.
Juergen Steinmetz, WTN Chair

WTN Chairman Juergen Steinmetz summarized.:

“I visited Donetsk in Ukraine before the current Donbas conflict started, and it’s a fantastic destination to explore. I landed at the newly built airport in Donetsk on a nonstop flight from Munich. Now, this airport is destroyed. Donbas was a striving region of Ukraine. Now people in this region either escaped or are isolated.

In a united Ukraine, you can find so much culture, food, great people, festivals, beaches and so much more. I can see a bright future for Ukraine Tourism, but I think we should wait for just a little bit and listen to our own government’s advice before booking our travel to Ukraine.”

He concluded: “We don’t have a crystal ball for anything these days when it comes to predicting the future for travel and tourism. I personally think the worst with COVID-19 is over, and the tense situation in Ukraine will pass soon.

It appears such tension between Russia and Ukraine has been becoming a routine of big politics every January. After all, the Ukrainians and Russian people are very much alike. Almost everyone in Ukraine speaks and thinks in Russian. Most movie stars, famous singers, and other idols are liked and celebrated in both countries. People enjoy the same movies and TV shows. A common history is undisputed.

Despite all this tension both countries continue to enjoy visa-free travel and so many cultural and economic ties. This is a love-hate relationship, so let’s love prevail.”

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