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Expert: Mir-Nesvizh tourism cluster is a brand of Belarus

Belarusian tourism expert Filipp Gulyi believes that ancient castles in Belarus should be conserved rather than reconstructed. He voiced this opinion in the talk show What's Going On?

Filipp Gulyi, Chairman of the Board of the Republican Union of Tourism Industry:
Lubchansky Castle is beautiful, but it is still an object of domestic tourism. All Belarusians should visit it of course. At the same time, we have a cluster, really, the one of the world significance - Mir-Nesvizh. No matter how it is criticized (there is no wooden staircase, but there is a metal one, according to fire safety) it still does work, it exists, and is overloaded during the weekend. Belarus needs a second cluster - Kossovo and Ruzhany, which, thanks to local authorities (there were no special republican budgets there) were restored and rebuilt partially. But there is no infrastructure around them yet, there are no sufficient number of hotels, agrofarms and so on... Even the basic infrastructure like toilets and shops. And they should be there.

As soon as this cluster is formed there, people will stay longer in Brest - this is very important, we will revive the transit flows there.

And the third cluster, very important too, is the current flow between Lithuania and Belarus, between Scandinavia. Visa-free regime was introduced [in February 2017] and a lot of Lithuanians started to come. They already come to Ruzhany, Kossovo. The castles are in poor condition, they are being destroyed. Every year the state is getting worse and worse. Even tourists' reviews are sad - they see how it is just going away. The question here is not about global reconstruction; there is no need to spend huge amounts of budget money.

There is a project of the Academy of Sciences of 2008 - partial conservation.

This is the French scheme, it was not used in Belarus.

These are partially glass fragments, where you reconstruct only one tower, the rest is focused on picturesque ruins.

This is a lot of times cheaper than reconstruction. And we do need these objects. Tourists today cannot spend money near these ruins.

Money is formed as follows: the fundamental, global issue of Belarus is the lack of a consolidating body, a link.

See… The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, and local authorities work independently, each spends its own budget. The Ministry of Transport is by itself too. There is no consolidating body.

Now there are good precedents between private business and the state.

Only this alliance - the state programs, business initiative and joint investment - can make something good in this area. Without budget money and private assistance - both investment tourism and business community - I think that this is impossible ... The Mir and Nesvizh castles are overcrowded. These two clusters do not function, tour operators do not go there.

There is insufficient number of guides who know foreign languages. We simply can't serve Australians there, for instance.

And we need to work on this. The local authorities are trying, but they have no support from the consolidated business and from the state. And this problem must be solved, because tourists come but they have nowhere to spend money.

Expert: Mir-Nesvizh tourism cluster is a brand of Belarus