MINSK, 15 January (BelTA) – The Sports and Tourism Ministry of Belarus is working on plans to unite the visa-free tourist and recreation zones of Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast, Vitaly Gritsevich, Deputy Director of the Tourism Department at the Sports and Tourism Ministry of Belarus, said at press conference on 15 January, BelTA has learned.
“We have been consistently working to liberalize visa rules. One of the immediate tasks is to unite the visa-free zones of Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast. I think we will be able to do it in the near future. Reviewing the results of the year 2018 we can assume that the merger of the visa-free zones will allow offering new tourist routes, boosting tourist arrivals and increasing the length of stay. Tourists usually spend around two days on average in the visa-free area of Grodno Oblast. If we merge it with Brest Oblast, the average stay is expected to increase to three or four days,” Vitaly Gritsevich said.
The united visa-free zone will also incorporate some new areas that might be of interest to travelers, like Ivatsevichi District, Lida District and Novogrudok District. “However, the question is whether these districts will be ready for tourists. We might need to work on tourism infrastructure there,” he noted.
Decree No. 462 on visa-free entry and exit of foreign citizens came into effect on 1 January 2018. The document extended the visa-free travel time for foreign citizens up to ten days in several areas in Brest Oblast and Grodno Oblast. In line with the document, the number of border checkpoints was increased in order to allow more foreign tourists to enter Belarus visa-free. The area where tourists are allowed to stay without visas was expanded. Foreign tourists who come to see the Augustow Canal are allowed to stay without visas in entire Grodno District and the city of Grodno. Travelers visiting the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park can also stay in the Brest tourism and recreation zone (it incorporates Brest city, Brest District, Zhabinka District, Kamenets District, and Pruzhany District in Brest Oblast and Svisloch District in Grodno Oblast) without visas.