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Welcome to visa-free Belarus!

This week names of stations in the Minsk underground are again pronounced both in the Belarusian and the English languages. Belarusians thought: ‘Are we going to have another Ice Hockey Championship, but do not know about it?’ No, they are not. This was done for the sake of tourists who will come to Belarus without visas.

At midnight on February 12, 2017 the visa-free regime for five days for citizens of 80 states, including those of the European Union, came into force in Belarus.

The Belarus foreign minister mentioned that the duration of stay in the country can be increased if people eagerly come to Belarus.

Is Belarus ready to greet guests from all over the world? Let us find the answer in the present article.

In fact, the first person a tourist sees in the country is a border guard.  

A representative of the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus assured us that all the necessary formalities are complied with. Belarus is ready to welcome visitors. The border control works in the same regime. If entry into the country is not desirable for a foreign citizen, he or she will be sent back in accordance with the established procedure.

Nowadays the English language is considered to be the world language, and without knowledge of it, it is thought to be difficult to find common ground. The Alkyc brothers from Turkey were worrying about this fact. They wanted to visit Belarus for a long time, because they are interested in its history and Stalin's Empire style, but due to the lack of Russian language knowledge they were afraid to get lost. The fear, however, was confirmed only partially.

Ali Alkyc, tourist (Turkey):
Belarusian people are very kind, but they do not know the English language, as a rule. Nevertheless, everybody is trying to help, to explain everything with gestures. We understand them.

Later we will see that the lack of language knowledge is not a big deal. 

Meanwhile some people are only going to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the country, British editor Mark started to explore Belarus in 2016 and has visited it four times. In his opinion, the visa-free regime is a clever decision.

Mark Ahmedzhanov, editor (Great Britain):
I think the five-day visa-free regime will help western tourists to, so to say, feel the country, and many more guests will come to Minsk in spring and summer than before, I guess.

The Briton was fascinated though not with Minsk, but with Rogachev, which he visited on the Day of Written Language.

Mark Ahmedzhanov:
For me this trip became a real discovery.

And now let’s return to our previous question: do Belarusians need the English language to communicate with tourists? 

To answer this we head to Minsk city center and choose a souvenir shop as a “victim”. After brief examination of the assortment, we ask the salesperson what we can buy as a keepsake of Minsk.

The salesperson tries to sell me souvenirs actively gesturing and speaking Russian. Not a single English word. We find it difficult to talk to one another, so that I have to surrender and speak Russian again to find out how it is possible to deal with foreigners without the English language.

Salesperson:
The most important thing is that foreigners should have a desire to buy, and we should have a desire to sell. When people want to understand each other, they will.

We are about to leave, when luck favors us – to the neighboring souvenir shop comes Alvaro Manrique from Spain. He will not suddenly speak Russian, as I did. Nevertheless, index finger outmatches any language: a couple of souvenir magnets and a cup will soon see sunny Spain.

This shows that in order to sell something, you do not need any foreign language.

Visa-free regime in Belarus