By Tatiana Anisimova
A friend from Antwerp asked if she might stay at my Minsk flat for a week, but actually ended up staying a fortnight — she became so involved in visiting the dental clinic, cosmetologist and hairdressing salon that time flew. Moreover, the Minsk prices pleased her greatly. She was born in the Vitebsk Region and married a rich Belgian in the 1990s, but now spends all her vacations in her homeland.
Foreigners arrive in Belarus not only to rest but to take advantage of our medical services; those who once went to Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania now travel to Belarus. Naturally, we have several advantages, being close to EU states and offering very good value for money compared to the cost of such services in Moscow for example. According to the National Statistical Committee, even people from India and Sri Lanka arrive in our country for treatment.
Dmitry Zakharchuk, the First Secretary of the Chief Consular Department for Foreigners’ Arrival Issues, at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, tells us more about foreigners arriving in Belarus for health treatments and resort stays, including which visas are needed. “There’s no such notion as a ‘medical tour’ in Belarusian legislation. Foreigners can come to our country for treatment and recuperation upon the petition of a Belarusian medical institution, applying for a visa for a business trip. Of course, there are no obstacles to gaining entry to our clinics if you do arrive on a tourist visa.”
Western European journalist Mauder says that he ‘has fallen in love’ with Belarus. He views us as ‘a medical paradise’; on the eve of an influenza epidemic, he began to buy Belarusian medicines, which are ‘cheaper than those in the Russian capital’. Then, he completely surprised me by asking me to help him in finding a ‘health tour’ to a Belarusian sanatorium.
Later, I realised that such requests aren’t uncommon; according to the National Statistical Committee, last year, around 130,000 foreign citizens bought tours to our sanatoriums, resorts and health institutions.