MINSK, 1 June (BelTA) – The director of a Norwegian travel agency is the 25,000th tourist, who has been able to come to Grodno without a visa this year, BelTA has learned.
Magne Versland from Oslo's suburbs has come to Grodno in order to see the Festival of National Cultures with his own eyes.
The tourist said: “We have our own photo club. A Grodno resident attends it. She's told us much about the city and about the unusual holiday. I've been able to come here thanks to the visa-free travel program. Impressions? I wanted to see countries of the former Soviet Union a lot. I was surprised how much Grodno looks like a European city. We like everything: architecture, people, and the warm welcome.” About 15 members of the photo club came with Magne Versland to Grodno. The visit is expected to last for five days. The tourist noted he had already started planning a repeated trip.
He was surprised by the attention he and his group had received. But the Norwegian is the 25,000th visa-free tourist Grodno has welcomed this year. Grodno Oblast Vice Governor Viktor Liskovich presented valuable gifts to him as well as a short guide book, which offers essential information about the region in English.
Viktor Liskovich said: “It is symbolical that we welcome the jubilee tourist on the day the republican festival of national cultures opens. It once again underlines that Belarus as a whole and Grodno in particular are open to guests. Our hospitable city welcomes more and more tourists every year. We are glad to see every one of them.” He pointed out a massive increase in the number of visa-free tourists: Grodno welcomed only about 14,000 visa-free tourists in the same period of last year.
By the way, the festival days may set another record as far as the number of visitors is concerned. Over 2,200 visa-free visitors intend to visit Grodno this weekend. Most of them are citizens of Poland and Lithuania. Grodno has welcomed residents of 47 countries all in all.
BelTA reported earlier that Belarus president decree No.462 on the visa-free travels for foreign nationals came into force on 1 January 2018. It extended the duration of the visa-free stay period to ten days, expanded the territory that visa-free tourists are allowed to visit, and increased the number of border checkpoints for visa-free entry. The visa-free zone near Grodno was expanded to cover the entire Grodno District. Visa-free entry is available via road checkpoints and checkpoints located at railway terminals and airports. The seasonal border checkpoint Lesnaya-Rudawka at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Augustow Canal area opened on 28 April. It caters to pedestrian and cycling tourists and small vessels such as yachts, boats, and kayaks. Lesnaya-Rudavka also accommodates visa-free tourists.More about Society