Crimea captivates tourists

Although Crimea is an Autonomous Region of the Ukraine, Crimeans don’t seem to like Ukrainians, but they do have an affection for Russians, primarily because most people in Crimea are descendants of Russians who were sent there during the Soviet years to replace the native Tartars who were sent off to other parts of the Soviet Union.

You see Crimea is one of those places that has always had good strategic value because of its location on the northern coast of the Black Sea and western coast of the Sea of Azov.  As a result, it’s been conquered many times and many wars have been fought over it, the most famous being the Crimean War from which was created the profession known as nursing.

Crimea is hoping that its tourism potential will now be recognised because of its subtropical climate, good geographic location, and health-resort potential.  In fact, incentives from the local government are geared towards making Crimea the tourism capital of Eastern Europe.

Realistically, the true potential of Crimean geographic location, climate and historical background can hardly be overestimated. The Crimean summer is similar to that of French and Portuguese Mediterranean coasts and the peninsular shares the same latitude with Venice. Additionally, the peninsular doesn’t experience the high humidity characteristic of near neighbours Greece and Turkey in the summer because of its near-island position in the Black Sea.

Crimea is the place that unites the past and the present of the multinational Russia. During the times of the Russian monarchy and under the Soviet Union, Crimea served as a summer retreat and “spa” area for the Russian tsar and later for the Communist Party leaders.

The coastal beach cities are very hospitable to tourists and accommodation is plentiful and cheap, with prices starting from around US$7 per night.  At this stage the clientele is mostly Russian, and English is not generally spoken, so it would be beneficial to have some knowledge of the Russian language.  During summer, beaches can get very busy.    

Even though most people have not visited Crimea the names of its towns have some familiarity.  For instance, Balaklava not only gave its name to a type of knitted face mask, but was the scene of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War.  Sevastopol was called the “hero city” after it stood up to the Nazi war machine during World War II and Yalta was where the 1945 conference between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin was held to discuss the re-organisation of Post War Europe.

Today, Yalta, the “Pearl of the Crimea” is gaining a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its wines.

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