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09 September 2022, 12:22

Amendments proposed to agro-ecotourism law in Belarus

MINSK, 9 September (BelTA) - An updated draft decree on agro-ecotourism in Belarus was submitted for consideration at the meeting of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko with the Council of Ministers' members on 9 September, BelTA has learned.

“I once agreed and gave a start to this wonderful process so that people living in the rural areas, in beautiful corners of our nature, could show this beauty to the people, including foreign visitors. The sector is very important in terms of modernizing rural infrastructure, creating jobs, preserving and augmenting our national cultural traditions, cherishing respect for nature,” the president said.

However, the president has been reported that some norms of the decree, which regulates the agro-ecotourism sector (Decree No.365 of 9 October 2017), remain on paper only. Specific facts are cited as examples. For instance, there are hotel and restaurant businesses operating under the guise of farm stays, especially near large cities. They do not pay taxes as hotel or restaurant operators. “The hotel business in the city is visible, transparent. It pays appropriate taxes. The same is true about restaurants. They however have built hotels in picturesque places near the city under the guise of agro-ecotourism. I do not mind this. Just pay taxes as hotel operators. They have built luxury restaurants in the countryside. I do not mind it either. Let them be. But pay taxes like the rest of the restaurant business in the country. They have registered themselves as agro-ecotourism and enjoy benefits,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed to the unfairness of the situation.

The president asked to report on the plans to regulate the activities of unfair farm stay operators who have turned their facilities exclusively into hotel complexes. “We should have noticed such developments long before. We should have done it at the very beginning,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was also interested in how the discussed proposals would affect farm stays located far from big cities: “They have survived difficult coronavirus times, work honestly and continue developing their potential year after year. One thing is to open hotels and restaurants near big cities under the guise of farm stays, and another is to operate such facilities in faraway corners of the country. As they used to say in Odessa, these are two big differences.”

“It is also crucially important to see how the proposed changes will stimulate the development of regional initiative and certain areas,” the Belarusian leader added.

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