Can we call Belarusians homebodies?
A few years ago, a survey stated that about 77 percent of Belarusians had never travelled abroad — excluding trips to Russia and Soviet republics as students. Of course, this is hardly a surprise and even a brief look at the behaviour of relatives and friends will show that most are content to relax at home when they have time off work, or to go to the countryside
By Yevgeny Pimenov
Last year, travel companies reported a fall in the number of trips for tourism purposes: largely connected with the situation on the currency market. Closer to the end of the season, there was a flurry of people seeking warm, beach holidays. 2012 has seen a slight recovery regarding tourist travel, with 5m Belarusians travelling for ‘private interests’ and 200,000 for holidays.
Interestingly, this year, more Belarusian trips were made abroad: about four million (up 10 percent on January-September 2011); 2.5m were to the CIS (up 15 percent). These statistics exclude Russia, since no state border exists between us in the true sense of the word, with no control over the number of those arriving or departing.
This year, the number of arriving foreign tourists has also increased. In the first nine months of the year, our county’s border was crossed by nearly five million foreigners (up 6 percent); only one-fifth were ‘transit’ tourists. More than 3.5 million foreign visitors stayed in Belarus for more than two days but only 1,714,000 were non-CIS residents. Russians were not included in official statistics, due to our integration. Between January and September 2012, Belarus was visited by 33,400 Germans, 11,300 Italians, 11,100 Serbs, 12,400 Turks and 12,300 Czechs; our close neighbours to the north and west, the Latvians (123,200), Lithuanians (877,400) and Poles (404,200), comprised the majority.
The Russian Public Opinion Research Centre and the Levada Centre have published an interesting study on the tourist preferences of our neighbours, showing that, for the last seven years, the number of Russian tourists holidaying abroad has risen just 2 percent. Most residents of Russia view foreign trips as a luxury, despite travel to Turkey being cheaper than to the Crimea.