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Hunt, try tasty draniki and rest at a sanatorium...

Tourists from abroad are attracted by low prices, European quality and Belarusian national traditions
By Oleg Onufriev

Why did nearly 450,000 foreign citizens apply for Belarusian visas last year? Of course, some were businessmen attending international scientific and professional conferences and many Western tourists came to visit the IT Park. Yet more were tourists eager to learn about our history, culture and way of life, stresses the Deputy Head of Tourism at TsentrKurort, Yelena Brok.

She tells us, “Most foreign guests to Belarusian health resorts and national parks were from Russia, with Lithuanians also frequent visitors to health resorts. As a rule, they bring their families too. Naturally, large events like the Slavianski Bazaar and New Year celebrations also attract groups — particularly of young people.”

The safest and most affordable European capital
European tour operators usually stress this element to tourists considering coming to Minsk. Clearly, those from Western Europe appreciate the fact, as the growing number of entry visas show. The capital also offers European level hotels and reasonably priced inbound flights, in addition to unspoiled countryside — as is rarely found elsewhere these days. Additionally, many Belarusian cities boast unique ancient architecture.

According to a study by Viapol Travel Company, middle-aged visitors dominate, with over 40 percent aged 36-55. Over 20 percent are 25-35 years old and, interestingly, more than 70 percent have higher education. About 60 percent of foreign tourists place Minsk as their primary destination, with Grodno leading among large cities and Nesvizh, Mir, Postavy, Glubokoe, Kamenets, Vetka, Pruzhany, Mstislavl, Logoisk and Braslav being the other main attractions.

Kalyada and Zavirukha
Various events through the year will draw tourists from far and near. One of the first is a dog sled race held from 26th to 27th January, at Raubichi, which is gathering over 100 participants from around the world. The final schedule for 2013 was agreed in December. 
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