Travel

Crimea tours threatened as political tension mounts

But most operators have said they are waiting to see if the situation changes before cancelling trips, which do not start until later in the year anyway.

The Foreign Office website described the situation as “increasingly tense following the decision of the Russian parliament to authorise military action on Ukrainian soil against the wishes of the Ukrainian Government.”

Simferopol airport, near the centre of Crimea, was taken over by armed men but flights resumed on March 2. However, the Foreign Office advises anyone leaving the region not to do so by this route “until the situation becomes more stable”.

“No flights are operating out of Sevastopol (Belbek) airport,” it said, referring to the airport in the south of Crimea. “Train and bus routes out of the peninsula are still operating. There are reports of road blocks, but traffic is able to get through. If you’re currently visiting or living in Crimea, you should leave now.”

One tour operator, Cox & Kings, told Telegraph Travel it had taken the decision to cancel its first tour of the year to the Ukraine – due to depart on April 21 – yesterday. “Cox & Kings follows the advice of the Foreign Office very carefully,” a spokesman said. “Clients booked on the tour will be notified of this decision this week.”

However, other operators are waiting to see how the crisis plays out.

Regent Holidays said it does not have any customers in the Ukraine at the moment but that its first passengers are due to fly out on April 19. “We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks hoping for an improvement,” a spokesman said. If the situation does not improve and the Foreign Office advice has not changed by April, it will offer its customers either a refund, a change of itinerary to avoid unstable areas, or an alternative holiday in another destination.

“We have continued to receive enquiries for Ukraine over the last couple of weeks, and hope for the sake of friends and colleagues in Ukraine, that the situation can be resolved quickly and that lives can return to normal,” the spokesman added.

Jon Baines Tours, which is planning a trip to Crimea in October, said: “With October being some time away we are waiting to see how the situation evolves. We are hopeful the political situation will stabilise sooner rather than later.”

In terms of Kiev, where there have been months of violent protests, the Foreign Office said the situation had “calmed considerably”.

“Most businesses in central Kiev are now open and the transport system has resumed a normal service,” its website states. “Public protests continue around Independence, European and St Michael’s Squares.

“You should take great care and remain vigilant throughout Ukraine, but particularly in the south and east of the country where violent clashes between demonstrators in the cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiyv have taken place,” it continued. “You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings.”

Tours to the Ukraine and Crimea tend to visit the Chekhov House Museum and the Livadia Palace at Yalta, where the Yalta Conference took place. They also stop at the Swallow’s Nest castle and tour Crimean War battlefields.

What else to read about Ukraine

Thank you for your interest in Ukraine and we hope that you will love this country even more when you will visit it.

There are many exhibition centres and art galleries in the Kyiv city for lovers of contemporary art and modern style.

They are almost always open for tourists with sophisticated taste and are ready to share the bright impressions.

In Kyiv you can spend time with your family with fun and pleasure: hiking to museums, amusement and attractions park; participation in family festivals and events.

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