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Brest welcomes first visa-free tourists

Society 03.01.2018 | 12:51

BREST, 3 January (BelTA) – Brest welcomed the first visa-free tourists on 1 January. They arrived to Belarus from Terespol by train, BelTA informs.

A family from Polish Biala Podlaska was the first group of tourists to arrive in Brest visa free taking advantage of Decree No. 462 on the launch of visa-free entry and departure for foreign citizens. At the Brest Central railway station the guests were welcomed by representatives of the local authorities, the tour operator, and mass media. Deputy Chairman of the Brest City Hall Sergei Zhukov welcomed the first visa-free tourists and gave them a colorful album featuring major tourist attractions of Brest. He expressed hope that they would enjoy their time in Brest and would come back to visit the city once again.

“We are very pleased with such attention. We have never had such a warm welcome in other places before,” the guests from Poland said. The family from Biala Podlaska spent the whole day in Brest. The tour operator developed a route including a sightseeing tour, museum excursions and shopping, tasting of national dishes for them. Biala Podlaska is located 30km away from Brest. Nevertheless, the family visited the Belarusian city for the first time as tourists. “It was difficult to come to Brest in the past. We needed visas. First you apply for the visa and then wait till it is issued. There were the barriers. Now we needed a voucher, insurance and passports only. We can travel freely. It is very good. We know that Brest is a beautiful city. We decided to spend the beginning of the year here,” the father of the family explained.

Sergei Zhukov remarked that Brest is prepared for the arrival of visa-free tourists. “The Brest City Hall has done everything to implement the decree of the head of state which was signed before the New Year. Of course, tour operators will work hard. As of today, there are more than 100 tour operators in Brest. Right now only 27 operators have corresponding licenses of the Sport and Tourism Ministry allowing them to work with visa-free tourists. Our major tour operator is Bresttourist. The Intourist Hotel has the necessary infrastructure. We also have a tourism information center, transport, specialists with a good command of foreign languages,” Sergei Zhukov said.

As for the tourism infrastructure, there are 20 hotels in Brest which can accommodate up to 2,000 tourists. About 20 sightseeing tours have been developed in the city. Brest's export of tourism services made up $3.5 million in 2017. Local authorities believe that the inflow of tourists will increase significantly thanks to the visa-free program.

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