What to do in Grodno during 10 days?


What to do in Grodno during 10 days?

Photo: sputnik.by

Grodno travel agencies shared what kind of tourists want to come to Belarus for ten days without a visa.

A lot of tourists besides Poles and Lithuanians are expected to visit Grodno as the foreigners are now allowed to stay in Grodno for ten days without a visa; earlier the days of residence were limited to five.

The tourists are believed to acquire more health resort vouchers, to receive health care services, to go shopping and to find unmarried girls.

The foreigners will go by train and they won’t spend a lot of time at the customs

On New Year’s Eve Grodno travel agencies received a good present such as extended visa-free travel time. Under the Presidential Decree of the Republic of Belarus No. 462 foreign citizens can stay in Grodno Oblast and the city for ten days.

Several years ago we couldn’t even imagine that we would be allowed to bring foreigners to Belarus without visa,’ said the general manager of OOO Solartour, Natalya Panova.

The speaker added that there are some unclear points, however the advantages prevail.

The number of visa-free tourists will increase due to different ways of travelling: by car, train and plane. The tourist can come to the visa-free territory of the Augustow Canal via the checkpoints located at railway terminals and in the Grodno airport.

Previously foreign citizens could enter Augustow Canal only via auto terminals ‘Privalka - Raigardas’, ‘Bruzgi - Kuznica’ and ‘Lesnaya - Rudavka’.

‘The queues at the auto terminals were holding visa-free tourists back. If they go by train Grodno – Krakow, then they won’t spend a lot of time at the customs,’ added Mrs. Panova.

Currently tourists buy shoes and medicine

The travel agencies say that many tourists come in groups, they spend two or three days in Grodno, and if they go to a special event, then they spend one day only.

The most popular goal to come is shopping. The tourists buy shoes, fabrics, gloves, clothes and medicines.

One more travelling goal is to go to the cafes and restaurants where the national cuisine is served. It’s noted that there’s high interest in Belarussian culture.

Vitaliy Mazuta, the head of the travel agency Columbustour (Kolumbustur), says that the most popular place among Grodno tourists is St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.

Five days was not enough to find a girl to marry

Travel agencies admit that tourists are mostly interested in staying in Grodno. In the summer they can go to the Augustow Canal but not well developed infrastructure and services don’t permit staying there long. One of the activities is going on a boat. The boat trip is scheduled in the summertime.

According to Mr. Mazuta, this Presidential Decree will attract more tourists who want to go alone to visit their relatives. Mostly these are the citizens of Poland and Lithuania.

Male foreigners are one more target audience. They come to Grodno to find a Belarussian bride. Mainly men are Italian or German, sometimes Belgian or French.

They need not less than a week to get to know a girl. Earlier the travel agencies were creative; a foreigner went to Poland or Lithuania for a couple of hours, then came to Belarus for five days without visa once again.

Medical tourism will develop

According to Vera Karachentseva, the head of ‘Studia otdyha’, the territory of the State environmental Institution ‘Republican landscape reserve ‘Ozery’ was included in the visa-free zone, which means new possible tourist tours. Sputnik, the Belarussian news agency, says that the foreigners will be interested in the bogs; the scientists spent 100,000 dollars on waterlogging.

Mrs. Karachentseva believes that medical tourism will start its development. The foreigners used to go to Belarussian health centers and use medical services. Five days was not enough for that.

Industrial tourism is one more promising sphere. Representatives of foreign companies used to come to Belarus to exchange experience through excursions, but now they will have enough time to participate in various conferences and other events.

How did the tourists change Grodno?

Visa-free regime in Grodno and the Augustow Canal came into force in October, 2016. In 14 months more than 50,000 tourists came here and spent more than 10 million dollars.

Practically every travel agency notes that in the past year Grodno changed for the better. There are more cafes, hostels, private museums. Moreover menus in cafes and restaurants were translated into different foreign languages.

Cheaper hotels, more parking lots and cafes are hoped to appear in the nearest future.