Holidays outside a sofa
Are Belarusians homebodies?
A few years ago an interesting poll was conducted in the country. It revealed that 77% of Belarusians allegedly have never traveled abroad. Of course, the poll did not take into account trips to Russia and other Soviet republics that people would make when students many years ago.
In fact, the results are not surprising. Even a brief analysis of friends’ and relatives’ behavior shows that a favorite destination for Belarusians is their sofas and dachas rather than famous tourist attractions abroad. Nevertheless, according to the official statistics, Belarusians hardly can be called homebodies. According to the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus citing the data of the State Border Committee, within nine months of 2012 Belarusians have made 6 353.4 thousand trips – a 11.7% rise on the last year.
Last year tourist companies reported a fall in the number of tourist travels. This was caused by the foreign exchange market perturbations. Travelers preferred to wait until the crisis that affected the Russian ruble, dollar and euro exchange rates was resolved. Towards the end of the season, however, there were many people eager to spend a couple of warm days on the beach. In 2012, according to tour operators, the market was recovering from the past year’s recession. Meanwhile, 5624.7 thousand Belarusian travelers reported private interests as the goal of their trips and another 215.3 thousand mentioned tourism. 239.9 thousand Belarusians who crossed the national border between January and September were vehicle service personnel, and another 273.5 thousand said they were on business trips.
Amusingly, this year Belarusians traveled to far countries more intensively than to the nearest ones – the number of such trips amounted to 3792.1 thousand (up 9.7 % compared to 2011). 2561.3 thousand trips were made to the CIS states (up 14.7 %). 2396.4 thousand of them were made for private purposes.
It is clear that travels to Russia are not included in the official statistics. There is no border between the two countries, and the flow of travelers is not registered.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Belarus has increased this year. The country received 4810.5 thousand foreigners (up 5.9 %) of whom just 1241.5 thousand were so-called ‘transit’ tourists. More than 3.5 million foreign visitors stayed in Belarus for more than two days. It should be noted that only 1714 thousand foreign tourists came from far abroad countries. Most visitors were from the CIS states (3096.8 thousand), Russia excluded. 33.4 thousand Germans, 11.3 thousand Italians, 11.1 thousand Serbs, 12.4 thousand Turks and 12.3 thousand Czechs have visited Belarus between January and September 2012. Latvians (123.2 thousand), Lithuanians (877.4 thousand) and Poles (404.2 thousand), our closest neighbors in the north and west, were predictably the most frequent visitors to Belarus.