How many tourists celebrated New Year's holidays in Belarus?

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How many tourists celebrated New Year's holidays in Belarus?

Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Belarus Vitaliy Gritsevich gave an interview to the TV program Studio of Good Mood on the CTV Channel.

How many foreign citizens came to Belarus for specific holidays from the Catholic Christmas to the present day? Are there any statistical data?

Vitaliy Gritsevich, Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus:
Probably, we cannot fully talk about statistics, because we are still just summarizing. If we look at Russians, they are just beginning to leave the Republic of Belarus. But we see that the influx of foreigners has increased. I can give an example of individual tour operators, which brought more than 1000 people for these holidays, others 500 tourists. And this is every travel agency. Accordingly, we can say that the number of foreigners visiting Belarus is growing. Many more came independently.

If to compare with 2016, is the statistics in our favor?

Vitaly Gritsevich:
We can say that we already see that visa-free entry has benefited Belarus, and the number of foreigners has increased, not only from the east, but also from the west.

From January 1, the stay of tourists in Belarus was extended to 10 days. Do you expect an increase in tourist flows?

Vitaly Gritsevich:
We are talking specifically about Belarus' western regions: the Grodno region, specifically about the Augustow Canal and the city of Grodno, and also about Belovezhskaya Pushcha. There, the term was extended to 10 days. This does not apply to the entire Belarus. When it comes to other regions of Belarus, a foreigner can stay there for 5 days without a visa if they came through National Airport Minsk.

Do you plan an increase from 5 to, say, 10 days in case a tourist arrives at our airport?

Vitaly Gritsevich:
This issue is being considered, as well as other issues on the liberalization of the visa regime, but, unfortunately, there are a number of difficulties.

Where do foreigners prefer to go when entering Belarus?

Vitaly Gritsevich:
Undoubtedly, Minsk remains an attraction of tourists in the Republic of Belarus, but traditionally Belovezhskaya Pushcha with Father Frost attracts more and more tourists. The Grodno region arranges many events during New Year holidays, and this, in fact, attracts tourists, too.

Is Belarus becoming more attractive in general?

Vitaly Gritsevich:
If we are talking about how much more recognizable Belarus is becoming, then yes, there is no doubt. We are now working specifically on the creation of a national brand. The work has been going on for a long time, if you remember the prehistory, how the city of Minsk was creating its brand. Perhaps the most successful in this case is Belavia air carrier with its brand, which is popular all over the world.

In July, a large conference was held with the participation of the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, it helped us a lot. There were experts from all countries and told us their vision of what the brand of the Republic of Belarus should look like. But we still want Belarusian specialists to say their final word. I expect that already at the beginning of 2018 you will at least see samples that we will offer to the entire republic for consideration.

In 2019 Belarus will host II European Games.How is Belarus preparing for this date? Maybe you've already planned some tourist activities?  

Vitaly Gritsevich:
First of all, the sports infrastructure is being prepared in Minsk, but we are not talking about this now. We have planned a number of events. We know the countries where these sports come from. We are going to show them Belarus, so that they not only come to Dinamo Stadium and admire it, but see the entire Minsk and Belarus.