Why Belarus benefits from visa-free regime


Why Belarus benefits from visa-free regime

Last week the President of Belarus had a meeting on expanding possibilities of visa-free travelling for foreign tourists to the country.

The government is suggesting that the days of stay should be extended to ten when entering Belarus via National Airport Minsk.

The main question is how it would affect the security of the country.

Erik Neugebauer left Belarus with a bunch of vivid memories and souvenirs.

Erik Neugebauer, a tourist from Germany:
I really liked staying at my Belarussian friends’. I’ve heard about Belarus and I fell in love with Minsk. I know that Mrs. Merkel came to Belarus to meet with Mr. Lukashenko. I decided to come here as soon as I found out about this visa-free time for five days. I wish there were more than five days.

The issue of visa policy simplification was on the agenda of the first meeting in 2018.

Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus:
Currently every person can choose recreational activities to their own taste and can be provided with services of high quality. There’s a rising interest towards Belarus which led us to the issuance of decrees which make entering Belarus easier. However, we need to continue working in this way. It is necessary to make sure that a tourist who buys a ticket to Belarus will cross the border without any problem. All the aspects of visa policy simplification are needed to be studied thoroughly taking into consideration world standards. Afterwards well-considered decisions upon Belarus will be made.

The Presidential Decree regarding visa-free travel time for five days positively affected the whole traveling sphere and resulted in great numbers. The tourists come to Belarus to get new experiences.

Vitaliy Gritsevich, Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Belarus:
As visa-free regime was implemented, the number of tourists has increased by 21%. Tourist services export has increased by US $180 mln, this marks the increase by a quarter compared to the results of 2017.

Apparently, IT companies benefited from the visa-free regime too. As Belarus is developing digital economy, narrowly focused specialists are required.

Oleg Kondratenko’s IT company is happy about visa-free regime.

Oleg Kondratenko, the head of an IT company:
Now we can invite specialists to us and they don’t need a visa to come.

Invited specialists did a great job. The company won a tender.

Aleksey Begun, the head of the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Sometimes tourists forget that the first day of stay begins at the very moment they cross the border of the country. 

In 2017, 80,000 tourists came to Belarus. Only 0.5 % of people violated the law.

Igor Dovgash, the chief of border security group ‘Minsk’:
Our inspectors supervise tourists in case they fill in the migration card and write a longer time period. Moreover, if inspectors see that the date of a return ticket exceeds the days of the visa-free stay, then the tourist is asked to either change the ticket or get a visa.

In Belarus, tourists feel safer than in other countries. Belarus managed to avoid actual migration problems and the main task is to maintain peace. That is the reason why the generals from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Border Committee and the Security Council of Belarus were present at the first meeting of the year.

Alexander Lukashenko:
While making decisions, it’s important to remember that the most essential point for us is the security of citizens of Belarus and those who come to our country. Security comes first and the income from tourism won’t compensate that. Visa-free regime is offered only to people from 80 well-developed countries. Moreover, undocumented migrants are unlikely to go by plane; they can’t afford it.

According to any statistics, Belarus is considered to be the most responsible country regarding migration control.

Alexander Lukashenko:
This issue addressed to the government, Ministry of Internal Affairs and other institutions must be tackled. It mustn’t be shifted onto the President, it must be tackled. It’s not normal when the border is seen again between two brother countries; the border which took much effort to be removed more than 20 years ago. I don’t know who’s behind that. But we need to realize that if Russia is raising this question, then there are some doubts. It’s necessary to negotiate this point.

The upcoming sports events are supposed to make it easier for Belarus and Russia to find common ground on visa-free regime.

Aleksey Begun:
In 2018, we are planning to work hard within the framework of 2018 FIFA World Cup. Also, in both countries, a group of experts will be working and discussing the ways of tourist transportation to this football event and their transit passage via Belarus. And in future the experts will extend their plans taking into account 2nd European Games 2019 and Ice Hockey World Championship in 2021 which will be held in Belarus.

Vitaliy Gritsevich:
We believe that this visa-free zone is likely to become joint.

By the way, Erik Neugebauer, the aforementioned tourist from Germany, has promised to come back to Belarus. This time with a company of friends.