International visitation to Belarus up 62% on the back of visa waiver
The number of foreigners taking advantage of Belarus visa waiver program in January-July 2019 amounted to about 174,000, up 62% over the same period a year before, Deputy Director of the Tourism Department at the Sports and Tourism Ministry Vitaly Gritsevich told BelTA.
"For the seven months this year about 174,000 travelers came to Belarus via Minsk National Airport and the visa-free zones around Brest and Grodno. This is 62% higher than in the seven months of 2018," Vitaly Gritsevich said.
The Sports and Tourism Ministry expects the number of international arrivals to keep growing. On 7 August Decree No. 300 was signed to combine the visa-free zones around Brest and Grodno. The decree will come into force in three months, therefore, the country is likely to reap the benefits of this move next year.
"The most important goal of the Sports and Tourism Ministry is to encourage tourists to stay longer in Belarus. Thus regions can earn more. Today a foreigner spends 2.5 days on average in the visa-free zones. After the merger of the zones, the duration of stay is expected to increase to 3.5-4 days," Vitaly Gritsevich said.
A reminder, in line with Decree No. 300, the existing separate visa-free travel areas around Brest and Grodno were combined into one visa-free travel area named Brest-Grodno. Five districts in Grodno Oblast were added to the new area. Those are Berestovitsa District, Volkovysk District, Voronovo District, Lida District, and Shchuchin District. Citizens of 73 countries will be allowed to stay without visas in the specified area for tourism purposes for up to 15 days. The decree will come into force on 10 November. Now citizens of the designated countries can stay here for up to 10 days.
Meanwhile, foreigners do not need visas to enter Belarus and stay in the country for up to 30 days, provided they arrive in the country via Minsk National Airport.