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27 Mar 2019

More foreigners coming to Belarus thanks to 30-day visa-free travel program

More foreigners coming to Belarus thanks to 30-day visa-free travel program

MINSK, 27 March (BelTA) – The number of foreign tourists arriving in Belarus via the Minsk National Airport has increased by 43% since the 30-day visa-free travel option was introduced, BelTA learned from Belarusian Deputy Sports and Tourism Minister Mikhail Portnoi on 27 March.

The period of time foreigners can stay in Belarus without visas was increased up to 30 days in July 2018, provided they enter and leave the country via the Minsk National Airport. “The option per se couldn’t have increased the number of tourists considerably. It needed an information component. We’ve managed to do it. The number of arrivals of tourists in our country via the Minsk National Airport increased by virtually 27% in 2018. The number of visits to our country has increased by 43% since the visa-free period was extended,” Mikhail Portnoi said.

About 50 marketing events were arranged in 2018 to help promote Belarus’ tourism potential on the global market. “We took part in 15 international expos, including two image-building ones in London and Berlin. We are working hard on it. We’ve arranged six fact-finding tours at the expense of the state budget and another six thanks to public private partnership,” the deputy sports and tourism minister noted.

Five videos advertising Belarus’ tourism potential were aired by the TV channel Euronews for the first time ever (from 26 November through 14 December 2018).

2018 was the Year of Tourism of Belarus in China. “We believe it is a very promising market, which will allow diversifying the export of our tourism services. An action plan was implemented. It included an information component and conditions for Chinese tourists. As many as 21 guides, who speak Chinese, have been trained. We will continue developing this direction,” the official noted. “It is also important that a mutual visa-free regime for citizens of Belarus and China came into force on 8 August 2018. Last year we earned about $6 million on this target audience,” the official said.

On the whole, in 2018 Belarus exported $230.5 million worth of tourism services, 14% up from 2017. The number of organized tourist arrivals was close to 4.8 million, with the number of organized tourists and holidaymakers at 365,000 (29.3% up).

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