Ukraine city Odessa's economy to suffer as beaches close

STORY: The once busy Black Sea beaches in the Ukrainian resort Odessa are deserted.

The white sand where tourists used to sunbathe are now littered with mines, while police patrol the boardwalks.

In early May, Russian forces pounded the port with missiles, leaving buildings in Odessa in ruin.

Reeling from the war, the local economy is now set to take a huge hit to its tourism industry this year.

Ukraine's military planted mines along the coast of the southwestern port city in case of a Russian amphibious assault, cordoning off the beaches to ensure civilians don't get hurt.

Military spokeswoman for the region Nataliia Humeniuk says the measures are a necessary sacrifice to aid the war effort.

“We realize that tourism and the recreational business are an important element for the economy. But we also realize that if we don’t hold the defense of our region, there will be no economy. So, we try to find a maximum compromise to give business a possibility to function without hurting the economy.”

No foreigners are arriving on Odessa's beaches for a holiday, leaving just internally displaced people, aid workers and journalists. All groups tourism office owner Oleksandr Babich says he works with for free in a display of charity and gratitude.

“Tourism, you understand, is not only about street tours; it is hotels, restaurants, souvenirs, all kinds of beach services; it is things related to the cultural sector – theaters are actively visited during the summer season, different concerts. It was very big money. I don’t know how the city economy will do without them.”

Some residents can't imagine life without the sea and sand, leading to reports of rule breakers dipping their toes into the water under the cover of night.

But others say that summering on the beach is a small price to pay for advancing the war effort.

“The military said not to go there. Why would you go there? This is the summer we will have. I think everything will end quickly, we will have our victory.”

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