KYIV – As tourists and business visitors return to Kyiv, city hotel bookings are running 86 percent higher than last year, according Ekaterina Volkova, manager of Booking.com Ukraine.
“Kyiv is going to go over the previous peak, in 2013,” Volkova said at the Invest in Kyiv Forum. Updated daily, her figure represent all but a few of the first nine months of this year.
Booking.com, the world’s largest online search engine for hotel rooms, books about 1.2 million room nights a day. While Volkova declined to give absolute numbers for Kyiv bookings through the system, her figures are seen as a good indicator of the upswing in foreign visits here.
To capture the new wave, Radisson, Accor and Mercure are opening new hotels in Kyiv this fall, adding 664 new rooms to the capital market.
After Russia’s 2014 attack on Ukraine, foreign visitors to Kyiv plummeted. Last year, they accounted for 20 percent of overnight visitors. This year, foreigners account for 40 percent of visitors, Bookings.com data shows.
Before 2014, the top foreign nationalities were Russian, Ukrainian and German. Now, the top three are Ukrainian, Turkish and Belarussian.
“The US and UK have grown significantly and are in the top 10,” said Volkova, who runs a 17-person office on Sagaidachnovo Street, Podol. “Chinese are the fastest growing group. This year, they are not in the top 15. But next year, they will be in the top 10.”
Contrary to expectations, this year’s strongest bookings were not for Eurovision, but for the first part of the May holidays, from May 1 to 5.
Hotels that hiked their rates 30 percent for Eurovision – May 9 to 13 – seem not to have profited as planned, she said.
Tourism dominated the panels Tuesday at the day long Invest in Kyiv Forum, at the Parkovy exhibition center.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko told attendees that when he was a teenager he worked for three summers as a city tour guide.
“You are hearing more and more foreign languages spoken in the center,” said Klitschko, who also speaks English, German and Russian.
The Mayor said 1.2 foreigners visited the city last year. He predicted 2 million foreigners will come here next year.
Speaking before an investor audience, he listed tourism attractions he wants to see built here: a “Kyiv Disneyland’ to replace Hydropark; a 25 km bicycle path from Irpin to central Kyiv; a cable car across the Dnipro; renovation of Podol – ‘the historic pearl’ of the city; and creation of a modern beach and water sports center on Trukhaniv Island.
“In Kyiv last year, people shooting films spent 20,000 hotel nights here, with an impact of more than $30 million,” he said in advance of a panel devoted to filming movies in Kyiv.
Kyiv has set a 2025 goal of doubling the slice of tourism in the city economy to 2.5 percent and of stretching visitor stays by 50 percent, to three nights.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said expanding tourism should be a national goal.
“We drastically need investment into tourism,” he told the forum.
“Around the world tourism takes 10 percent of all production. We want to enlarge this sector in our economy.”
For Kyiv, a big test will come next May.
On Thursday, May 24, the city will host at Dynamo Stadium the final match of the UEFA Women's Champions League. On Saturday May 26, Olimpiskiy Stadium will be the venue for the UEFA Men’s Champions League final.
Although Olimpiskiy can hold only 70,000 spectators, Oleksiy Reznikov, deputy head of the city administration, said he expects “up to 400,000 visitors” that weekend. He said that Kyiv and its suburbs have a total of 21,000 hotel rooms.
“We expect up to 800 charter flights with fans,” Reznikov said, describing an operation that sounded more military and less recreational. “Kyiv’s three airfields will handle them – Boryspil, Zhulyany, and Gostomel. During the game, we will park the overflow planes in Odesa.”
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Posted Sept. 27, 2017