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Trouble-hit Crimea hoping for tourism boost with visa-free initiative

Despite being in the midst of political turmoil, Crimea, is hoping that a new visa-free initiative will provide boost to tourism numbers in 2014 and beyond.

This year is already set to see six million flock to its shores this year, according to the country’s tourism minister, and the new rules could see this number rise further. Tourism minister Yelena Yurchenko revealed that from this year tourists can visit the region for up to 12 days without needing a visa.

Cruise passengers will also be granted a 72-hour stay visa free, in move that Yurchenko hopes will pave the way for more cruise tourism. Just 80,000 of the scores of UK visitors to Ukraine made it to Crimea according to 2012 figures for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Despite the optimism shared by Yurchenko, the FCO is still advising against all travel to Crimea and all but essential travel to the eastern regions (oblasts) of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk due to increased tensions. Branislava Vladisavljevic, destination editor for the region at Lonely Planet, outlined that the firm is commissioning an author to update the e-book on Ukraine, with the latest information already available on lonelyplanet.com. This is in an effort to account for recent developments in the region.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and responding accordingly, with coverage of the crisis and essential travel details for travellers considering visiting Crimea," says Vladisavljevic. However, a lift in map sales covering the region could point to increased tourist interest. Jon Woolcott, buying and marketing director at Stanfords, which describes itself as the world's leading travel information specialist, says:

"Sales of maps covering the region are three times what they were in the two months prior to what's been happening in Ukraine.” Have you experienced travelling in a country in the midst of a political transition? Wherever you are heading to on your break abroad, it is important to head FCO advice and organise appropriate travel insurance, cover.

Date Created: 10 April 2014

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