- Gas Prices Spike
- IT Companies Take Up Kyiv Office Space
- City Apartments, Increase in the Price of Suburban Houses
- Construction Costs Rise Twice as Fast as Inflation
EU gas prices have spiked to historic highs, increasing 10-fold on the Dutch TTF in the last 15 months, said Serhiy Makogon, the Director General GTS Ukraine Operator, wrote on Facebook. “Today at the European hub TTF, the price of gas with delivery next month crossed the border of 40 euros per megawatt-hour,” he wrote. “This is a historic maximum. And this is 10 times more than in May last year.”
High gas prices in Asia – a 20% premium over EU – are causing diversion of LNG cargoes away from EU to Asia, according to S&P Global Platts. LNG deliveries to EU terminals in July were down by almost one third compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019. For Europe, LNG is the main alternative to Russian pipeline gas.
This summer’s high gas prices will mean increases of 15-70% in winter heating bills for Ukrainians, forecasts Ukrteplokommunenergo, the heating supply industry association. “If the price of gas continues to rise…we can predict growth [of bills] by 15-70%, depending on the region, city, local community“, said Sergiy Dunailo, the Vice President of the association. Ukraine imports from Europe about 30% of its gas, overwhelmingly of Russian origin.
It is unlikely that Ukraine will get any more money from its $5 billion June 2020 Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF, writes Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy. He calls the Wednesday night call between President Zelenskiy and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva “a clear indicator that Ukraine failed to meet its commitments to the Fund.” Looking at the calendar, he adds: “The IMF mission in September gives little chance for Ukraine to get any tranche from the fund by the time the state budget for 2022 is voted on, which is no earlier than late November.”
“For Ukraine’s image in the West, this is not good news,” he concludes. “However, for Ukraine’s public finances, this is not a big problem, as Ukraine counts on receiving about $2.9 billion from the IMF in the form of SDR allocation in the coming months.”
Kyiv Commercial Court has confirmed the validity of the purchase of $153 million of Ukrzaliznytsia debt by VR Global Partners, L.P. Noting that VR has won seven judgements in a row on the Feb. 2019 purchase, Richard Deitz, the President of VR, described the railroad’s legal objections as “nothing other than a spurious attempt by the company to avoid its legal obligations to repay borrowed money.” He added: “With President Zelensky’s upcoming visit to Washington, it is an opportune moment to send a signal to its partners that Ukraine is committed to upholding the rule of law.”
The Lease of new office space in Kyiv in the first half of this year was 60,000 square meters, 66% higher than in the first half of 2020, reported Colliers International Ukraine. Of this new takeup, 64% went to IT companies, Oleksandr Nosachenko, the Managing Director of Colliers (Interfax-Ukraine). So far this year, five business centers, with a total area of 71,000 square meters, opened in Kyiv. In the second half, eight business centers are planned for commissioning in Kyiv, with a total area of 130,000 square meters.
The average prices for a new apartment in Kyiv rose 16.2% during the first half of this year, compared to January-June 2020, Halyna Martynenko, spokeswoman for City Communications, tells Interfax-Ukraine. The market fell 2014-2017, rose by 10% in 2018 and by 22% in 2019, then stayed flat in 2020, she said. According to City One Development, the square meter increases during the first half of this year are: elite +9%, to $3,571; business + 22%, to $2,252; comfort +17%, to $1,205; and economy +15%, to $978.
Houses in suburbs within 20 km of Kyiv City have increased in price by 10-15% this year, says Yuriy Pitu, the President of the Realtors Association of Ukraine. Over the two-year construction cycle, prices can increase by 40-50%, he tells UNIAN. He adds: “The popularity of private estates or housing in apartment buildings depends on the location, the convenience of transport links with Kyiv, the quality of construction.”
Construction costs are increasing twice as fast as inflation, up by 19.5% in June, compared to June 2020, reports the State Statistics Service. Since the start of the year, prices for construction and installation are up by 15%. The biggest increase is for engineering – up 25.5%. Last year, construction costs increased by only 3.7% over 2019.
Demand for apartments across Ukraine has returned to pre-pandemic levels, reports Viktoria Volkovska, Director General of the Finance and Investment Association, a group of 41 construction finance funds. A poll by the group found that 77% want to buy a new apartment to improve their living situation. The rest are looking for an investment. Yuriy Zavialych, director Lviv’s Intersvit, tells Interfax-Ukraine: “In early 2021, due to a prolonged quarantine period and a drop in income, we noted shrinkage in real demand. Now the real estate market is showing a tendency towards full recovery to the indicators of a relatively successful 2019.”
The governments heavily promoted “Mortgage at 7%” program is not having an impact on housing sales, Volkovska said of the Association’s online survey of 41 construction finance managers. Of the group, 54% said they have not noticed any impact. Looking ahead, 38% said they hoped it will spark more sales. So far, the program has largely financed dacha sales, largely because buyers can use their primary residences as collateral. For buyers who receive their pay ‘in envelopes’, bank mortgages are impossible or too expensive. In a new National Bank of Ukraine survey, bank managers predict an increase in mortgages over the coming year.
The government will issue $750 million worth of housing bonds after completion of an ongoing merger of the State Mortgage Institution and the Ukrainian Financial Housing Company, reports the Cabinet of Ministers. Priority recipients will be veterans, young families, and people force out of Crimea and Russia-controlled Donbas. Prime Minister Shmygal said: “Our task is to expand such programs as much as possible so that Ukrainians can improve their living conditions today.”
To speed up demolition of the 1950s-era Khrushchovky, the five-story concrete panel apartment buildings, the government plans to lower the barrier of consent of residents to demolition to 75%, from 100% today. A renovation program adopted 15 years ago has stalled, reports Gordon. Olena Shulyak, Deputy Chairman of the relevant Rada Committee, says: “You can never get 100 percent consent from all tenants for resettlement. It’s simply impossible.”
- IMF Delays Money for Ukraine
- Central Bank Curbs Mighty Hryvnia
- Salaries Jump by 24%
- Fourth Covid Wave Expected In One Month
- Border Controls Tighten
Arrival of a $700 million IMF tranche has been put off to the fall. After a telephone call with President Zelenskiy, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva tweeted praise for “Ukraine’s successful economic progress under the IMF program.” But she said an IMF review mission will visit Ukraine in September. In talks to reporters, Zelenskiy listed the free market reforms adopted by the Rada and announced: “We are ready to receive a tranche.”
The IMF’s 18-month, $5 billion Stand-By Arrangement with Ukraine expires in December. So far, Ukraine has received only one tranche, for $2.1 billion. Separately, Ukraine is to receive from the IMF in coming weeks $2.8 billion, part of a worldwide distribution to member countries. In September, Ukraine faces $3 billion in debt repayments, the equivalent of the total due for the following six months.
Failure to reach an agreement with the IMF and the resignation of one third of top officials at the bank over the last year are the leading complaints against Kyrylo Shevchenko, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, reports Economichna Pradva. Presidential advisors cited in the article and in a Financial Times article say the complaints could result in Shevchenko’s dismissal by the end of this year.
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy noted: “By law, the NBU governor has a seven-year tenure with a limited number of reasons for dismissal during the term…The presidential office has no straightforward legal reason to dismiss Shevchenko, but there is still a possibility that he could leave his position, possibly “voluntarily” following pressure…“We see such a probability as less than 50%.”
The EBRD will extend a €100 million loan to Oschadbank, money that can be exchanged for shares in the state-owned bank. The government approved the loan as part of the strategy to ultimately privatize Ukraine’s state-owned banks.
The hryvnia has crossed the symbolic barrier of 27 to dollar, strengthening to official level of 26.86. To prevent the hryvnia from overvaluing, the central bank has bought $2 billion from the population this year, Bohdan Danylyshyn, chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine Council, writes on Facebook. Bolstered by high prices for Ukraine’s major exports, the hryvnia has gained 5% against the dollar this year. Reserves are about $29 billion.
The average nominal salary of Ukrainians last month was 24% higher than one year earlier, the State Statistics Service reports. This June salary – $533 a month – is 2.4 times greater than the minimum wage of UAH 6,000 [$223]. Ukraine’s yearly inflation in May was 9.5%. Partly cancelling that out, the hryvnia has increased in value against the dollar by 5% since the start of the year. The biggest average salary hike was for IT workers – up 38%.
1,000 infrastructure facilities are under construction this summer in all of Ukraine’s 24 regions, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy presidential chief of staff, said at the Ukraine 30 Decentralization forum. In addition to a record amount of highway construction, the government is building 100 kindergartens, 100 schools and 100 sports facilities. He said: “Together we will be able to build a really good country in the next few years, which is already changing, and everyone sees it.”
With health officials warning of a fourth Covid wave at the end of August, Kyiv is asking all ‘critical’ employers to submit by today a list of all employees who will need Metro passes. Preparations for a new lockdown come after Jarno Habicht, head of the World Health Organization’s office here, warned that the new Delta variant is expected to hit the country hard in one month, causing a wave of infections that would last until winter.
“Now is a good time to get vaccinated while the Delta strain has not spread widely through the country,” Habicht told UNIAN. The last wave was Ukraine’s deadliest, taking 18,626 lives nationwide between March 9 and May 6, according to Health Ministry statistics. Over last two months, Ukraine has averaged about 500 new cases a day.
Ukraine recorded in Kyiv the nation’s first fatality from the Delta variant. As of Wednesday, there were 17 known Delta patients in Ukraine – in Kyiv, Lviv and Uzhgorod. Most tested positive after visiting Russia. More cases may result from a tightly packed religious procession by 20,000 faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Residents of Russian are believed to have participated Tuesday in Kyiv.
Starting in August, people arriving from Russia and India will have to undergo “mandatory self-isolation or observation for 14 days without the possibility of early termination,” Health Minister Viktor Lyashko told the Cabinet. “The new Delta coronavirus strain is actively spreading in Europe. A large outbreak is recorded in the Russian Federation.” Under new rules, all unvaccinated foreigners arriving in Ukraine next month will be required to take a PCR test within 72 hours after arrival.
By the end of this year, Ukraine expects to receive 47 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Shmygal told the Cabinet. “This amount of vaccine will be sufficient to fulfill the task of fully vaccinating most Ukrainian adults in 2021,” he said. About 30 million adults live in Ukraine. Of the doses, 20 million are the German-American Pfizer–BioNTech variety.
With the arrival of Western-made vaccines, Ukrainians’ resistance to vaccination is ebbing. Last Tuesday, almost 150,000 people were vaccinated at 2,900 sites nationwide. Since February, 5 million doses have been administered.
“We are ready for the autumn,” President Zelenskiy told reporters. “We have 90,000 open beds for patients with coronavirus.”
- Business Confidence Returns to Pre-Pandemic Levels
- Labor Migration Brings Income, But Saps Economy
- Centrenergo to be Sold by December
- Foreign Travel Rebounds
- Instagram About to Overtake Facebook in Ukraine
Business confidence has returned to pre-pandemic levels of October 2019, reports the central bank. Now, the trend line seems headed to the high levels of the start of the Zelenskiy Presidency. Agriculture and trade were the locomotives of a 4-point increase in the Business Expectations Index maintained by the National Bank of Ukraine.
Remittances by Ukraine’s labor migrants is forecast to reach $13.3 billion this year – 11% higher than the $12 billion recorded in 2019 and 2020. Labor is expected to remain above metals this year as Ukraine’s second largest export, after food. The rise in labor remittances is “due to the recovery of the economies of countries of destination of migrant workers and simplification of border crossing conditions by accelerating vaccination,” Yuriy Geletiy, a Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine tells Interfax-Ukraine in a lengthy interview.
Ukraine’s shrinking workforce handicaps its economy, said Gennadiy Bobov, the President of Panda, a farming group based in Kyiv region, writes in an essay summarized by UNIAN. “Agricultural companies are faced with huge problems in finding personnel,” he writes “Welders, turners, tractor drivers, truck drivers – there is a shortage of labor everywhere. Today we are constantly increasing wages for people, but that’s all. It’s also very difficult to find them. Moreover, middle-aged and elderly specialists work in these professions. This means that soon the shortage of people in working specialties will be catastrophic.” He blamed the opening of the EU labor market and the ‘destruction’ of vocational education in Ukraine.
Escalating the war between new Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko and the company’s management, Vitrenko charges that a reported net profit of nearly half a billion dollars for the first quarter was in reality a loss of up to $4 billion. On May 5, Peter van Driel, Naftogaz CFO posted on Facebook a preliminary Q1 net profit of the hryvnia equivalent of $469 million. Now, Vitrenko tells RBK Ukraina in a lengthy interview that an audit will show a big loss in Q1, largely due to unpaid bills by municipal heating companies and Naftogaz’ outstanding debt to Ukrnafta for received gas.
Vitrenko blamed “the desire of management to talk about profits and show a supposedly good result in order to get a bonus as soon as possible and postpone the reflection of losses until later.” He also says Naftogaz’ failed production program of the last three years has forced the oil and gas company to pay $2 billion to buy gas this summer.
DTEK Oil & Gas, Ukraine’s largest private producer, increased its gas production by 10% during the first half, compared to January-June of last year, the company reports. “DTEK Oil & Gas is steadily increasing gas production thanks to systemic investments and the introduction of innovative technologies,” said Ihor Schurov, the company CEO. The company is largely focusing its investment in Poltava region, commissioning two new wells, reworking 21 existing wells and investing in a refrigeration unit at Machukhske field.
By the end of this year, the government plans to sell all its shares in Centrenergo, the state-owned energy company, the State Property Fund announced. A rolling series of auctions will commence on August 2. The state owns 78% of Centrenergo. The Fund has reported that the sale might net $14 million. The Fund also plans to auction off titanium producer United Mining and Chemical Company with one sale on August 31.
Of Ukraine’s 3,343 state owned companies, only 28% made a profit last year, according to research conducted by Ukrainska Pravda, (Economy Ministry data). Last year, only 43% of Ukraine’s state companies – 1,458 – were functioning. Ukraine’s state companies lost almost $2 billion last year. The biggest loss – almost $700 million – was at Naftogaz. The total valuation of the state companies is $62 billion.
The Finance Ministry auctioned the equivalent of $116 million in hryvnia and dollar bonds, less the half the amount sold in the previous week, the Ministry reports on Facebook. The offering of a 1-year dollar bond, at 3.7%, accounted for 56% of all sales, or $65 million. Similarly, the sale of a 1-year hryvnia bond, at 11.15%, accounted for 67% of hryvnia sales, according to the Ministry’s website.
According to the State Statistics Service, Passenger transport levels are creeping back toward pre-pandemic levels. Increased were recorded in the first half of this year compared to January-June of last year: road passengers +2%; rail +20%; metro +23%; and air +68%.
Cargo transport by road and rail has also increased. During the first half of this year, rail cargo was up by almost 3%, to 147 million tons. Road cargo was up by 15.5%, to almost 100 million tons.
Ukrainian spending on external travel is rebounding this year to 93% of the pre-pandemic level of 2019, Yuriy Geletiy, the central bank deputy governor, tells Interfax-Ukraine. He has forecast that spending by Ukrainian tourists will increase by 50% from last year’s level, reaching nearly $7 billion to year end. In 2019, Ukrainians spent $7.5 billion on International travel.
With Instagram rising, the number of Facebook users is decreasing in all regional centers of Ukraine, reported plusone social impact, citing social media research. Facebook has 16 million active users in Ukraine. Instagram now has 15 million users. In the first half of this year, Facebook had these audience losses: Kyiv – down 3%; Dnipropetrovsk region – down 6%; and Cherkasy – down 25%. By contrast, Instagram has grown by 6% in Lviv and by 7% in Kyiv.
- Canada, Ukraine Talk on Joint Antonov Jet Production
- Defense Ministry Holds up Canada’s $1 billion Black Iron Project
- Metinvest Buys Big Steelmaker
- Steel and Pig Iron Production Rise
- GDP Grows Again
- Half of EU Now Open to Ukrainian Tourists
Canada and Ukraine are preparing a project to produce a modernized version of the An-74TK-200 mixed cargo and passenger jet for international markets, focusing on North America, Ukroboronprom reports. In March, Kyiv’s Antonov opened Antonov Aircraft Canada in Montréal, the business capital of Québec. The largest of Canada’s 10 provinces, Québec is almost three times larger than Ukraine. A legacy of Bombardier, the corporate jet maker, Québec already has an aerospace industrial cluster, Aéro Montréal.
Under a proposed bilateral cooperation document, “design and final assembly” of the jet would be done in Québec, Desmond Burke, head of Gold Leaf Aviation, an Ontario company representing Antonov’s interests in Canada, tells Le Devoir newspaper. Appropriate for Canada, the Soviet-designed aircraft operates well in the Arctic, through high mountains, on limited runways, and carries 52 passengers and 10 tons.
One disadvantage, writes the Capital Hill Group, an Ottawa lobbying group working on the project, is a “critical dependence on the use of a significant number of components produced in Russia, which in turn do not meet modern requirements, restrain the mandatory certification of aircraft in European and American markets.”
Canada’s largest investment in Ukraine, the US$1 billion Black Iron mining and processing plant in Kriviy Rih, is being held up by delays at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, Matt Simpson, CEO of the Toronto-based mining company, tells RBC-Ukraine. If the Defense Ministry completes a binding agreement on transfer of the main land plot, construction could start early next year.
“This slow decision making to secure key land rights worries both our investors and us,” Simpson said in a lengthy interview. “Today, with the increasing demand for iron ore and sky-high prices for iron ore worldwide, the interest of investors in the extraction of raw materials is relatively high. But when they see the lack of dynamic government support for significant private investment projects, they gradually lose this interest.”
Metinvest, Ukraine’s largest iron ore, coke and steel producer, will pay $339 million for Dniprovsky Integrated Iron & Steel Works, a bankrupt steel maker, ProZorro.Sale auction platform reported. With the purchase, Rinat Akhmetov, owner of Metinvest, raises his control of Ukraine’s steel production from 60% to 70%, calculates SteelOrbis news site.
Concorde Capital’s Dmytro Khoroshun writes: “Metinvest’s monthly EBITDA will likely amount to at least $400-500 mln in 2Q21 and in 3Q21 because of strong steel and iron ore prices. Steel prices will likely decrease by the year’s end, but production restrictions and credit easing in China might limit their drop.“
With EU pressure growing fast to block imports of ‘dirty steel’, Interpipe is the first in Ukraine to slash CO2 emissions with a built from scratch electric arc steelmaking plant. Opened in 2012 at the cost of $1 billion, the plant produces less than 250 kilograms of CO2 per ton of steel, one tenth of the amount produced by the open hearth plant it replaced. The plant was largely financed by SACE, the Italian export credit agency, and was equipped by Italy’s Danieli Group.
Responding to high world prices, Ukraine increased its pig iron production by 8% during the first half of this year, compared to January-June 2020. Ukraine smelted 10.8 million tons of pig iron, making it 10th in the world, between Taiwan and Germany, Ukrmetalurgprom reports, citing Worldsteel figures. Ukraine’s slightly outstripped the world increase of 7.3%.
Ukraine’s steel production during the first half increased by 7.4%, to 10.9 million tons of steel. This is barely half the worldwide increase of 14.4%. Many Ukrainian metals companies found it more profitable to export pig iron than to refine it into steel. Ukraine is the world’s 14th largest steel producer, between Taiwan and Mexico.
President Zelenskiy has signed a decree designed to stimulate the exploration, mining and processing of 37 minerals deemed strategic for the world economy in the 2020s. Within two months, the Cabinet of Ministers is to prepare a list of strategic mining lots that should be put up for electronic auction.
Ukraine increased imports of coal by 18% during the first half of this year, to 10.1 million tons. In response to shortages at thermal power plants last winter, the imported coal bill nearly hit $1 billion for the first half. Top sources of coal: Russia – 60%; US – 22.5%; and Kazakhstan – 11.7%.
Ukraine’s GDP probably grew by 6% during the second quarter, compared to April-June of last year, predicts the Economy Ministry. This growth will cancel out the Q1 contraction, making 1.9% growth for the first half, the Ministry predicts. With this growth the Ministry sticks with its forecast of 4.1% GDP growth for 2021. The National Bank of Ukraine predicts 3.8%. With the recession apparently ending, the State Tax Service reports a 22% yoy increase in people registering their new jobs.
Half of the EU’s 27 countries now allow Ukrainian tourists, reports Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Visitors need recent negative results from a PCR test, or a vaccination certificate. The 14 countries are: Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal. The Foreign Ministry updates this website with the latest Covid travel rules.
- Strong US Congress Opposition to Nord Stream 2
- No More Russian Gas, No More Ukrainian Pipeline
- High yields in Grain Harvests
- EU Re-Opens for Ukrainian Tourists
- Kyiv Hotel Occupancies Up This Summer
Congressional Republican and Democrats are united in opposition to the opening of Nord Stream 2, said Yuriy Vitrenko, the Chairman of Naftogaz, speaking with reporters in Washington. “Very positive – there is bipartisan support,” he told VOA of his meetings in the US Congress. “Both major U.S. parties, Democrats and Republicans, support our fight against Nord Stream 2. They understand that the project should never become operational.”
Vitrenko rejected the promise by Angela Merkel, Germany’s outgoing chancellor, to guarantee continued gas transit after 2024. “I cannot understand how Germany can guarantee transit of gas via the territory of Ukraine, if neither of those countries is in charge of producing and transporting the gas,” he told VOA. “Theoretically, such guarantees could come only from Russia.” Without Russian gas in the Ukrainian pipeline, he said: “The risk of full-scale military aggression by Russia would go up substantially.”
European gas prices are at 13-year highs, but Gazprom is only using 27% of Ukraine’s pipeline capacity, Serhiy Makogon, the General Director of GTS Ukraine Operator, tells the pipeline company’s press service. The strategy of spurning 100 billion cubic meters of idle East-West capacity, he says, is “to sell the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 as soon as possible…Gazprom can use our system, but does not do so, and thus stimulates further growth in gas prices in Europe.”
Ukraine’s pipeline company expect to receive $1.3 billion this year to move gas from Ukraine’s Russian border to the EU. $1 billion of this amount is spent on running the pipeline company — paying 11,000 employees and performing maintenance. Without a long term transit contract after 2024, the pipeline network will only serve 10 bcm of imports and 20 bcm of domestic production. To survive, he said, the company would have to decommission “more than 50%” of current capacity.
“This is a one-way street – many Europeans do not understand this,” he said if Ukraine’s Operator starts to close excess pipelines in 2024. He warned: “Then it will be impossible to turn everything back.”
Major investments in energy efficiency for factories and apartment buildings could reduce by half Ukraine’s gas consumption during the 2020s, said Vitaliy Shcherbenko, Naftogaz Director of Energy Efficiency, tells Den news site. This reduction could eliminate Ukraine’s need to import 10 bcm of gas every year, he says. Investments are needed in energy efficient boilers and insulation. Increasingly, EU and Scandinavian aid to Ukraine targets raising efficiency in Soviet-era buildings.
Harvests of wheat, barley and peas are going well. With high yields, Ukrainian farmers have harvested 14 million tons from 22% of the forecast area. To date, about half of the nation’s winter barley and peas crops have been harvested. This does not include 9 million tons of winter wheat have been harvested, almost one third of the forecast. If current yields hold up, the Agriculture Ministers forecasts a 17% increase in the harvest of grain and legumes over last year. Of the 76 million tons, exports could reach 56 million tons.
Ukraine kept its position as the fourth largest source of food imports for the EU, after Brazil, the US and the UK during the first four months of this year. Ukraine’s food exports to the EU actually dropped by 19% yoy, according to the European Commission’s report “Monitoring EU Agri-Food Trade: Developments January-April 2021.” The drop appears to be largely explained by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Single Market on January 1, 2021.
Sweden and Spain: the EU is opening up to Ukrainian tourists with vaccination certificates or negative PCR tests. In recent days, France and the Netherlands opened under similar conditions. This summer’s ever changing Covid travel rules are listed in a comprehensive country by country survey in the Kyiv Post.
FlixBus, Europe’s largest bus operator, opened new routes last week from Kyiv and Lviv to Ukraine’s biggest destinations for migrant workers and students – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The three routes, generally taking around 12 hours, include intermediary stops in each country. Separately, Michal Lehman, regional CEO of FlixBus, has complained about Ukrainian rules: “Due to the complicated process of obtaining permits for domestic transportation, a ticket from Kiev to Warsaw is more expensive than from Warsaw to Berlin, although, based on the distance, it should be the other way around.”
In the first half of this year, 4,392 Ukrainians received the Karta Polaka, or Polish Card, which is reserved for people of Polish heritage. The card exempts holders from the need to get a foreigner’s work permit and allows bearers to attend government schools. Last year, 7,094 Ukrainian citizens received the Polish Card. Since the Card was instituted 14 years ago, 141,000 Ukrainians have received one.
Indicating a revival of Ukraine’s tourism, hotel occupancies jumped into the 60% range in June for Ukraine’s three most popular cities: Kyiv, Odesa and Lviv. Yelyzaveta Rudeleva, head of the Hotel Matrix consultancy, tells Interfax-Ukraine of these jumps in occupancy rates from May: Kyiv to 66%, from 43%; Odesa to 63%, from 53%; and Lviv to 60%, from 41%. Average daily room rates jumped in all surveyed Ukrainian cities from May to June by 2.4% to 18.4%.
So far this year, Kiev has been visited by 308,000 foreign and more than 500,000 domestic tourists, said Maryna Khonda, the Deputy Head of Kyiv City State Administration. She did not offer comparative numbers for 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. According to the State Border Guard Service, the top sources of foreign were: the United States – 26,576; Israel -22,684; and Turkey – 21,057.
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