A raft of negative television coverage of Ukraine is partly accountable, while even the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises would-be travellers to “avoid driving at night”.
Yet Miles Saward, a man with more than two decades’ experience in the sports travel sector who owns the sporting travel company, sportoptions.com, maintains that if England get off to a good start against France in Donetsk, there will be a significant increase in the numbers heading east.
“We’ve chartered an early morning flight from Birmingham to Donetsk on June 11 for England’s first group match which is already 90% full,” says Mr Saward.
“Granted, there were a lot more people travelling to the last World Cup,” he continues, “but I think it’s fair to say that, although Ukraine has attracted negative headlines, not all of them justified, and supporters are more money-conscious, the competition has not yet captured the imagination.
"Once it does, i.e. if England start with a victory over the French, bookings will surge.”
Indeed, sportoptions.com has sold out its allocation of tickets for England’s second match (against Sweden) on June 15 and Mr Seward is already taking a steady flow of £75 deposits for pre-registration bookings for the quarter finals.
Nonetheless, while there are pockets of optimism (interestingly, sportoptions.com decided to fly from Birmingham for the French game because they recognise the huge base of English support in the Midlands), there’s no doubt that in general, Euro 2012 ticket sales to English fans have been disappointing.
“Tickets have not sold very well,” said Kevin Miles, Director of International Relations for England’s FSF (Football Supporters Federation) on Wednesday.
“For the games against France and Ukraine in Donetsk, the English FA have only sold about two thousand tickets to English fans,” he added.
It means that all remaining Donetsk-based tickets reserved for English fans, estimated at some 4,000 seats, have been returned to UEFA.
Cost has been the major factor in preventing most fans from travelling as flights are generally extremely expensive and decent hotel rooms are reportedly on offer at an average cost of £250 a night.
Supporters wanting to travel to Donetsk are further dissuaded by the fact that it’s 580 kilometres south-east of the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Every major Donetsk hotel sold out of available rooms for Euro 2012 game dates months ago, although the situation in the city is now improving slightly, according to Kevin Miles, who said. “There have been some problems with our accommodation [for England FSF], but walking round the city, we have seen welcoming stickers in windows, a good sign that businesses locally will be happy to see us arrive.”
Businesses everywhere will be happy to attract football fans’ custom, but at present it seems that the number of those wishing to convert sterling into Ukrainian hryvnia will be decidedly lower than many expected.