Hospitality planned

What will Belarusian tourism look like in 5 years?
Various customs formalities did not delay Siegfried Schtolz, a businessman from Hamburg, very much as he was crossing the Belarusian border. After entering the country he was surprised by the quality of our roads virtually equal to famous German autobahns. Having stopped at a comfortable hotel in Brest, next morning Schtolz went on a tour to Belovezhskaya Pushcha where he was astonished by the virginity of Belarusian nature as well as by truly European service. On his way back the German businessman called in at a pull-in cafe and could not but admire our national cuisineЎ­

Stop! That′s enough! Unfortunately, the idyllic picture above is a fiction so far. Yet it can turn into reality. Of course it is possible under condition that we thoroughly follow all provisions of strategic instrument adopted by Government the other day — 2006-2010 National Program on tourism development in Belarus. I asked Viktor Yankovenko, chief at tourism department of Ministry of sports and tourism, to comment on the Program.

— Static planning is quite risky in tourism. For instance, one day tourists are attracted by all related to Mark Shagal and another day they come in flocks to Silichy and Logoisk ski centers. Or, if we promote rural tourism, one day sport tourism may knock it out.

Thus, developing the 5-year tourism program, we divided it into two stages. The first stage implies modernization of existing legal base. Plenty of regulatory documents were issued, our country entered the World Tourism Organization — thus it′s time to follow common rulesЎ­ And only after that we will be able to proceed to specific activities. Assume that we need to develop a plan for arranging our motorways in cooperation with many interested organizations — we still lack decent motels, cafes with national cuisine and parking lots. In the same way it is planned to develop small and medium-size hotels all over the country — in towns and by motorways, by rivers and lakes, in small boroughs attractive for tourists etc. The Program allows making corrections during its implementation. For example, when restoration of Augustowsky canal finishes, it will become clear what is necessary for the infrastructure: where we need a modern hotel, or a simple camping for canoe tourists.

Besides, implementation of specific projects will be simplified to the utmost due to the fact that from now on the focal point of tourism development is moved from the capital to regions; for this purpose the whole country was divided into 27 tourism zones. Regions are expected to design their own tourism development programs by December 15. And this will allow, say, Brest region to work on restoration of Kosciuszko palace instead of hammering away some theoretical project sent from the center.

It′s worth mentioning that long-run predictions exist in all countries. For instance, Turkey plans to receive up to 60m tourists by 2010, Almaty, Kazakhstan expects 150 thousand visitors. Taking into consideration that many countries develop on the account of domestic tourism when their citizens prefer to travel within their native land, the prospects of Belarusian tourism seem to be quite optimistic. The main point now is not to allow specific promising projects be lost in abundant plans.

Sergei Kozhuh
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