MINSK, 26 December (BelTA) – The Sport and Tourism Ministry expects a notable increase in tourist flows in Brest and Grodno after the introduction of the 10-day visa-free entry there, Deputy Sport and Tourism Minister Mikhail Portnoy told the media while commenting on Decree No. 462, BelTA has learned.
The decree extends the possibilities of visa-free entry for tourists. Foreign tourists, who come to see the Augustow Canal Park, will be able to stay without visas in the entire Grodno District and the city. Visitors attracted by the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha will be able to travel to the tourism and recreation zone Brest (Brest city, Brest District, Zhabinka District, Kamenets District, and Pruzhany District in Brest Oblast and Svisloch District in Grodno Oblast) without visas. Thus, the visa-free ten-day regime is introduced in Brest while Grodno sees it extended from 5 to 10 days.
Mikhail Portnoy noted that this is a long-awaited decision that will bring good economic benefits. Since the visa-free entry was introduced, the Augustow Canal and surrounding areas have hosted over 50,000 visa-free tourists. Prior to the introduction of the visa-free program it hosted around 4,700 tourists a year. “The flow has increased more than 10 times,” Mikhail Portnoy stated. Tourist spending has amounted to about $12 million. With the extension of the visa-free program the figure is projected to increase by one-third.
The deputy minister noted that foreigners visiting the country can form an opinion about Belarus and make sure it is a safe country with good tourist infrastructure. The extension of the visa-free program will also contribute to the development of sports and medical tourism. “The previous decree on the Augustow Canal gave a 10-time increase in tourist arrivals. We hope to see the same trend in Brest,” Mikhail Portnoy said. It is possible that for tourists Grodno will become an alternative to Vilnius, and Brest to Warsaw. “We expect a very good effect from this decree,” he said.
Decree No. 462 on the visa-free entry and departure of foreign nationals comes into force on 1 January 2018. In line with the document the number of border checkpoints will be increased in Brest Oblast and the city, in Grodno Oblast and the city via the checkpoints located at railway terminals and in airports in order to allow more foreign tourists to enter Belarus and stay here without visas.
At present the visa-free travel option is available in Belovezhskaya Pushcha for up to 72 hours and in the Augustow Canal and its surrounding areas for up to five days.More about Society