POLIANYTSIA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine’s biggest ski resort Bukovel in the Carpathian mountains is fully booked until the end of year as Ukrainians have sped to it instead of other foreign resorts that have been shut due to coronavirus-linked restrictions across Europe.
Bukovel’s management said the resort had already been booked at 80% capacity through January. Bukovel, which sits 920 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level and covers five mountains in western Ukraine, attracts two million visitors each year.
A tourist from Kyiv, Anton Luzhnyh, said he used to go to France to ski.
“Why am I here? Because foreign ski resorts are closed. It is lockdown there. Maybe they will be reopened in February, then we will go there,” Luzhnyh told Reuters.
Hotels and ski slopes in neighbouring Poland will also remain closed at least from Dec. 28 to Jan. 17.
Unlike some European countries, Ukraine did not tighten restrictions on the movement of its residents within the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus over the Christmas and New Year season.
Instead, strict lockdown measures, which include the closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force from Jan. 8-24.
That has come as a relief to Ukraine’s tourism industry, where services are in high demand over the holiday season. For example, much of the population in the village of Polianytsia, the closest to the Bukovel resort, relies on tourism jobs.
(Writing by Margaryta Chornokondratenko; Reporting by Sergiy Karazy; Editing by Bernadette Baum)