Media tourism in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone as a new tourist phenomenon

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Abstract. Every year, the number of tourists in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is increasing. The most numerous visitors are journalists who come to perform their official duties. At the same time, researchers have not yet shown interest in such an interesting and important tourist phenomenon. The purpose of this article is to describe a new phenomenon of media tourism in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and its features. The study was conducted with a help of a qualitative case study analysis method. The websites of the state and private enterprises and mass media publications based on the results of trips to the territory for 2013-2017 were analyzed. As a result, the specific features of journalists who visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone were identified. Such journalists mainly have confidence in the absence of a threat to health (55%), developed empathy (45%) and imagination of thinking (45%). Consequently, the tragedy of history and the gloomy appearance of the territory, the suffering of local residents make it attractive to journalists. In addition, due to personal interest, the voluntary travel motive (61,5%) prevails over conditional forced travel (38,5%). At the same time, the attention of journalists to the territory is attracted due to the activities of tourists. The authors describe the so-called «compensation effect», when the reduction of tourists' attention to the territory is balanced by an increase in the attention of the mass media. The presence of risk explains the predominance of men among journalists in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (54%). For example, women can better assess the risk due to greater vulnerability. The peculiarity of journalists' work in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the risk of radiation exposure and ethical controversy. The study shows that journalists' inherent positive world perception and profound sense of professional duty can successfully overcome these obstacles. The results of the study can be used by the following researchers to identify ways and strategies for promoting media tourism in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The benefit of this study is to draw attention to a new unexplored tourist phenomenon. Mass media have a great influence on the formation of a positive attitude towards the territory and attracting the attention of tourists. Taking into account the specific features of media tourism will help to attract more tourists and improve the quality of rendering service to journalists.
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Archival date: 2020-04-02
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