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Opinions & Interviews

25 Jul 2018

Fisenko: Belarus is turning into increasingly convenient venue for international events

Fisenko: Belarus is turning into increasingly convenient venue for international events

MINSK, 25 July (BelTA) – Belarus is turning into an increasingly convenient venue for holding international events and forums, which is partly attributed to government efforts to relax visa rules, Head of the Main Consular Department at the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Igor Fisenko told a briefing at the BelTA press center on 25 July to discuss the extension of the visa waiver for foreign nationals, BelTA has learned.

He believes that the extension of the visa-free travel for foreigners up to 30 days is highly instrumental for promoting inbound tourism.

Igor Fisenko noted that Belarus revised its visa rules dramatically over the past three years. At first, the head of state decreed a three-day visa-free stay in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park and a 30-day visa waiver for the citizens of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Foreigners visiting the Augustow Canal for five days or less did not need visas, either (in December 2017 the visa-free stay in this territory was extended to 10 days). After a while, citizens of 80 countries could take advantage of the five-day visa-free travel provided they came to Belarus via National Airport Minsk.

“These measures did not change migration trends in the country. The number of foreign nationals visiting Belarus has increased. The bulk of tourists came via National Airport Minsk. The passenger flow via the airport rose by 20% in 2017; the number of passengers exceeded 4 million for the first time. The positive trends remain in place this year,” Igor Fisenko said.

He noted that Grodno Oblast posted a considerable increase in tourist arrivals, more than other regions of the country.

According to Igor Fisenko, from late October 2016 till August 2017, the city of Grodno and the Augustow Canal welcomed over 50,000 tourists coming on the visa waiver program. In H1 2018 alone, the figure exceeded 40,000. Over 30,000 foreign tourists arrived in Belarus via National Airport Minsk from 12 February 2017 till 24 July 2018.

The foreign ministry representative emphasized that tourism promotion is high on the agenda of the Belarusian president. This matter got a special focus in the State of the Nation Address. “The decree to extend the visa-free stay for foreigners up to 30 days will benefit the export of tourism services,” Igor Fisenko said. He is convinced that the move will encourage more tourists to buy recuperation tours to Belarusian health resorts.

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