News Society, 26/05/2021

Where Can Kharkivites Spend Vacations in Summer 2021?

According to Kharkiv Today, it’s cheaper to go on vacation abroad instead of staying in Ukraine. At the moment, only a dozen tourist destinations welcome guests from Ukraine.

Quarantines and politics have collapsed the prices of overseas tourism. Kharkiv residents are willing to take advantage of this.

Tours to Egypt and Turkey start now from around $200

Egypt tour prices dropped fourfold a year ago and have not risen since then. The cheapest tour for two can be purchased for $200 even after the cost of the PCR test before departure and after returning is added to the tour price.

Kharkiv resident Roman Hrankin traveled to Sharm el-Sheikh with his wife and daughter in late April. A week’s holiday for two adults and a child costs a little more than 11,000 UAH (approximately $400).

“They hardly pay attention to the tests there. We showed them at the airport, then when we checked in and they looked at the tests in the hotel as a matter of course. Nobody checked their authenticity. Hotels work without restrictions at all, restaurants and shopping centers in the town work until 9 pm. There were a lot of Ukrainians in the hotel, “Roman shared his impressions of the trip.

Egypt has been and remains one of the most popular destinations. Usually, the tourist season in Africa is already over in the summer as it gets too hot there. But this year, tour operators are adding more and more charters from Kharkiv to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada in June.

In 2021, in contrast to last year, tours to Turkey also became cheaper. Affected not only by the severe quarantine but also by the absence of tourists from Russia, who were banned from traveling to this country until June 1 due to poor epidemiological situation in the country.

“Though, not all Turkish hotels have been opened because the Ukrainians cannot fill them all. Indeed, you can find a double room for 5 nights in a  hotel somewhere quite far from the sea for $200, but the hotel won’t be great”, informs the head of the travel company Anna Hladkova.

The period of unprecedented generosity is about to end. Hoping that the Russians will be allowed to travel to Turkey this summer, local hoteliers set high prices for travel companies. For example, prices for a 7-day tour for two in the popular Alva Donna World Palace hotel in Kemer range from $1,700 to $2,000.

Everything could still change if Russians are not allowed to holiday in Turkey again. Then hoteliers will be forced to reduce prices and hastily sell rooms as they did in May.

Which European countries welcome Ukrainians?

Greece and Cyprus have been opened for overseas tourists, but tour operators have not yet decided on prices for tours. The Greeks announced the lifting of quarantine only on May 14 so the tourist season won’t start until the mid-end of June. For family holidays, Kharkiv residents often choose Bulgaria. A 7-day trip for two to Sozopol and Nessebar starts from 12,000 UAH (approximately $450).

Montenegro has always been an expensive destination in comparison with Turkey and Egypt. It is more expensive now but at the same time significantly cheaper compared to pre-quarantine times.

“This season, Montenegro will offer the best prices out of all European resorts. From mid-June, a 7-day stay for two in a hotel with breakfast starts from 15,000 UAH (about $550).  As for Greece, tourists are still waiting for the first planes to fly,” told the manager of the travel company Kateryna Hromyko.

It is more expensive than Egypt, besides all-inclusive hotels are not common in Montenegro, so tourists have to spend money on food. But tourists are not required to test for coronavirus there. Moreover, before flying back, travelers can do a free test in a Montenegrin hospital so that they do not have to go into quarantine when they arrive back in Ukraine.

Likewise, in Albania, neither a test nor self-isolation is required. But the rules for entering Georgia are much more severe. The test must be done no earlier than 72 hours before arrival, and then repeated in Georgia after three days of stay. In total, you will have to visit the laboratory, spend your money and go through an unpleasant procedure three times, including the test that is needed after returning to Ukraine. In Georgia, as in Turkey, there are rather strict quarantine restrictions: mandatory masks and a curfew.

Recently, a Kharkiv resident Masha Bakhtihozina returned from a week-long trip to Georgia and shared her impressions of her quarantine vacation.

“Masks have to be worn everywhere, the police controls this and fines those not wearing masks. The fine is about $200. In Batumi, it is a little less strict than in Tbilisi, but we saw a girl with a mask on her chin who was fined by the police. After 9 pm there is a curfew. No one walks the streets, even to the neighboring house. Many shops and cafes close at 8 pm to let the owners get home on time. Restaurants are also open until 9 pm and only on weekdays. Because of these restrictions, there are few tourists, and so many institutions and sights like museums and a funicular are closed in Tbilisi,” told the tourist.

SkyUp airlines offered discounts on the first post-quarantine flight from Kharkiv to Tbilisi and Batumi and sold return flights at $100. Typically, such a trip costs 2-2.5 times more. At the same time, the prices of tours to Georgian resorts are even higher than the tours to Montenegro. Offers for a week’s tour for two in a three-star hotel start at 14,500 UAH ($530).

Text: Natalia Ivanova