Odessa tourists replaced by mines: Ukrainian resorts are banned

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Odessa’s beaches are now strewn with police and menacing man-sized mines due to Russia’s assault on Ukraine. /Reuters

Odessa’s beaches are now strewn with police and menacing man-sized mines due to Russia’s assault on Ukraine. /Reuters

Tourists used to flock to the Ukrainian resort town of Odessa to stretch out along its pristine Black Sea coastline.

However, the white sands are now strewn with police and menacing man-sized mines due to Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian army placed mines along the coast in case of a Russian amphibious assault after the conflict escalated in February, cordoning off once popular beaches to ensure no one handled the weapons.

Having once benefited from a booming tourist trade – particularly from Russian patrons – Odessa’s local economy has been hit hard by the closure of the port city in southwestern Ukraine.

Many of its longtime residents cannot imagine life in Odessa without access to water.

A man sits next to a closed beach in Odessa. /Edgar Su/Reuters

A man sits next to a closed beach in Odessa. /Edgar Su/Reuters

“We cannot live without the sea. Without the sea, there would probably be no Odessa,” said 82-year-old resident Viktor Holchenko.

In early May, Russian forces attacked the city with missiles, leaving several buildings in Odessa in ruins.

Now signs posted by the Ukrainian military warn residents to stay away from buried mines, with a sign outside a seaside restaurant reading “Danger! Mines”.

Empty restaurant tables are seen next to an empty gated beach in Odessa, /Edgar Su/Reuters

Empty restaurant tables are seen next to an empty gated beach in Odessa, /Edgar Su/Reuters

“They (the military) said don’t go there (by the sea),” said 18-year-old local Kyrylo Zinchenko, who was a driver before Odessa’s tourism dried up.

“Why would you go there? This is the summer we will have.”

Nataliia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for the Southern Military Command, said she realized that business and recreational tourism was an important component, “but we also realize that if we don’t provide defense of our region, there will be no budget to fill.”

The local economy will be hit hard, said tourist board owner Oleksandr Babich. “It’s hotels, restaurants, souvenirs, all kinds of beach services. It’s things related to the cultural sector… I don’t know how the economy of the city will do without it.”

Source(s): Reuters

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