Belarus to expand visa-free regime


Belarus to expand visa-free regime

Simplification of entry rules to Belarus will be continued.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting on the hottest topic: the expansion of opportunities for visa-free entrance for tourists. The past few years have brought unprecedented changes in this area.

Some 60,000 visa-free tourists visited Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park and the Augustowski Channel in 2017. Now tourists from 80 countries arrived in Belarus through the national airport have the right to be there for up to 5 days without undue formalities. It is planned to increase this term, simplifying the entry to Belarus of athletes and fans during II European Games.

One year of visa-free regime has already brought results. Nearly 80,000 foreigners took the opportunity to fly to Belarus through the national airport, and the export of tourist services grew by 30 per cent. But new rules are introduced from 2018.

Yvona Brodzik, director of the library in Stare Kobiałki (Poland):
We have been in Belarus, in 2018 we arrived without visas - only with tourist documents. And this is a great relief for us. We didn't have to go through the paperwork, go to the embassy, file documents, then pick them up. Earlier we spent a few days on this.

Ekaterina Zhilyanina, CTV Channel:
At the moment, you can arrive in Belarus without a visa through the national airport for five days. And for another ten days through other checkpoints. They are in two regions. Foreigners who arrived in this way can be on the territory of Brest, Brest District, Zhabinka District, Kamenets District, Pruzhany District. Also the Grodno and Svisloch districts.

Applications from tourists began to arrive in this Brest company in the first days of the decree from Poland, Lithuania and even the UK. There is a demand, but there will be even more.

Alexandra Pashedo, Deputy Director of a travel agency:
It would be nice if the decree would be extended and there would not be a territorial barrier between Brest and Grodno.

Ten-day stay opens new prospects. You can plan a vacation in a sanatorium, in an agro-hotel, medical, dental services, business meetings for this period. In general, there are many advantages for the country.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
We should continue to work in this direction. It is necessary to ensure that the tourist, buying a ticket to Belarus, knows that they will not have problems on the border. When making decisions, we must remember the main thing for us - the security of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the guests of the country. We should consider in detail all aspects of simplifying the visa regime taking into account world trends and take absolutely optimal and balanced decisions in the interests of Belarus and our neighbors. We should not pose a problem for other states.

The EU's questionable migration policy has already led to tragic consequences. Therefore, Belarus is moving forward, and safety is at the forefront.

According to the experience of 2017, there was no negative impact on the migration situation. Meanwhile, the rules for receiving flights from Belarus have changed at Russian airports since the entry into force of the visa-free regime in Belarus. But the Russians also "suffered" from innovations on the Belarusian internal border. Passport control was introduced for passengers on land transport unilaterally. Minsk took first place in the ranking of the most popular places in the CIS these days. Therefore, the neighbors had to queue, returning from Belarus after the New Year holidays.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The Belarusian-Russian border has acquired the unofficial status of "the most strange border in Europe" since February 2016. It's not okay, when the border between the two fraternal states, which we removed more than 20 years ago, is restored again. I do not know who needs this. This is done allegedly for security reasons. But what kind of security can be discussed if we have joint lists of foreigners who are prohibited from entering the territory of the Belarus-Russia Union State. Therefore, excuses and references to the fact that we have something wrong here, and therefore the border is introduced, do not make sense. Moreover, our security services have established constructive and systemic cooperation. We should dialogue with Russians on this topic.

Fears are groundless. This is confirmed by joint operations of security forces of Belarus and Russia and statistics.

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Over the past 4 years, 230 people have been returned to Russia as part of the readmission agreement. That is, they penetrated from the territory of Russia to the territory of Belarus, tried to get further to the countries of the European Union. Russia returned to us only one citizen. The western border is reliably protected, so there is no threat to the Russian Federation from there.

Belarusians can also travel to different countries without a visa. Belarus in the world rating of passports in 2018 rose to 5 positions - and now ranks 65th. Germany is the leader here. 177 states of the world are open for the holders of the German document.

But work is moving in this direction, as the Foreign Ministry assures.

Vladimir Makei:
Belarus is actively negotiating with the European Union on the liberalization of the visa regime, we are practically at the final stage. There are negotiations with the People's Republic of China, with the Russian Federation on the agreement on mutual recognition of visas.

The tourist industry in Belarus is one of the fastest growing now. New objects and even directions are opening. After all, it is important not only to come to the country with comfort and without paper delays, but also have a good time. The industrial giant is also in the tourist trend.

Andrei Suslenkov, Deputy Director General of the Minsk Tractor Plant on ideological work, personnel and social development:
For a year we have been engaged in industrial tourism. About 3,500 people visited us in 2017. We provide such a service today: assemble the tractor, and then you can drive it.

Belarusians will continue to work on the hospitality regime. Earlier there were proposals to extend the stay for those foreigners who arrive at the national airport for up to 10 days. Options for the tourists to the II Euro Games are being developed. According to one of them, visa-free regime will begin to operate 10 days before the opening and will last 10 days after the end of the competition.

«Не надо было оформлять кучу бумаг, ездить в посольство, подавать документы». Возможности безвиза в Беларуси будут расширяться