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15 January 2024, 14:35

Belarus remains popular destination among Russian travelers

MINSK, 15 January (BelTA) - Belarus traditionally remains a popular destination among Russian visitors, Filip Guly, Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian Tourism Industry Union, told BelTA.

Tourism is one of the key areas of cultural cooperation in the Union State, as Russia and Belarus are of mutual interest to each other. This is mainly due to the lack of a language barrier, similar mentality and convenient logistics. This, among other things, makes Russia and Belarus the most important foreign tourist destinations for each other. Belarus hosted a lot of guests from the neighboring country during the New Year and Christmas holidays. They chose Belarusian medical-focused health resorts, SPA hotels and resorts to reconnect with nature. High-quality hotels in regional centers and the capital city were also in demand. At the same time, Russian tourists mostly look for Belarusian tourist classics.

"An additional and integral part of leisure time programs in cities and especially in Minsk is urbanism – taking a stroll around the city decked up for the holiday season, visiting cafes and cinemas, restaurants serving Belarusian national cuisine, shopping. Russian tourists are particularly interested in the Pervy [First] store selling products featuring Aleksandr Lukashenko’s quotes". Outside the cities, guests are interested in cognitive tourism - castles, ethno-villages, manors, museums, flagship companies such as the BelAZ automaker and Kommunarka confectionary. In general, Russian tourists take advantage of all available offers. They are interested in everything, because our culture, gastronomy and attractions have a distinctive character, different from the places from which the guests come to us," Filip Guly said.

Speaking about the 2023 results in the travel industry, Filip Guly noted that the industry posted growth though not as impressive as it hoped for. "The figures were within the projections. Why not higher? After all, Europe fenced itself off to Russian visitors; the number of direct flights between Belarus and Russian regions increased significantly. Tour operators expected larger numbers of Russian guests. They did increase compared to 2022. Moreover, many of them came from the regions with which Belarus has not direct flights. But 2023 saw serious competition for tourists from the regions from which we had a solid flow in 2022. First of all, competition from the Russian Federation itself. Its travel industry posted a 16% growth and an increase in the number of rooms, investments in new resorts, hotels and routes. Indeed, our hotels are fully booked during the winter and May holidays, but to ensure their occupancy in the off-season, we need serious programs and meaningful work. In particular, I think it is important to support the initiatives by the Sport and Tourism Ministry of Belarus to analyze the current distribution system with the Russian Federation and consolidate marketing efforts. After all, in order to get more, you have to invest," Filip Guly noted.

 He also outlined some of the trends that are already manifesting themselves in Belarusian tourism in 2024: "First of all, I am talking about the growth of independent travel and the influence of the systems of room sales, car hire and regular ready-made excursions. Undoubtedly, our health resorts, national parks and other infrastructure with access to quality recreational resources are in the top.”

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