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5 Jan 2018

Visa-free tourists bring money to Minsk

MINSK, 5 January (BelTA) – The Minsk city budget’s revenues from tourism services have increased by 35% since a visa-free program was introduced in Belarus, BelTA learned from a recent interview of Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei with the TV channel Belarus One.

“Allowing citizens of 80 nations to stay in Belarus for five days without visas has already borne fruit. Over 80,000 foreign citizens, primarily from Western Europe, have visited Belarus. Minsk city budget revenues from tourism services, hotel services, healthcare and recreation services and so on have increased by 35%,” said Vladimir Makei.

In his words, the number of tourists in the regions has increased considerably thanks to the visa-free travel program, in particular, tourists are attracted to the Augustow Canal and the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha. “We intend to improve things in this area. Naturally, taking into account all the factors, our relations with Russia and commitments within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. We are conducting the relevant talks with our Russian friends,” noted Vladimir Makei.

There are plans to discuss further steps to simplify visa regulations at a government conference to be hosted by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in January. “We are going to make the relevant proposals then. I think concrete steps will be taken as a result of the conference,” concluded the diplomat.

Yet Vladimir Makei admitted that some tourists break the visa-free travel rules. “But their number is insignificant. I think the decision to offer visa-free travel was absolutely justified and balanced. It has produced a good effect for the country, this is why we cannot stop now,” he stressed.

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