Resorts with rural colour

Local rural estates visited by thousands of tourists last year — mostly Belarusian 
By Svetlana Likhovtseva

Despite rural tourism having only really existed here for the past decade, it is proving very successful. As of early October, 1,917 rural estates were operational in Belarus, welcoming 145,000 visitors over a 12 month period. The figure is up almost 25 percent on the previous year, with Belarusians comprising the greatest number. Foreign guests were mostly from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland.

Country of felt makers
It’s no surprise that new projects are afoot to launch Belarus’ first agro-tourist resort; the Volozhin District may be chosen, since it already boasts an agro-tourist cluster, an information centre and the ‘Valozhynskiya Gastinsty’ route. Valeria Klitsounova, the Chair of the Country Escape Public Association, tells us, “Over the course of time, agro-tourist resorts may appear in the Kopyl, Shchuchin, Dribin and Rossony districts, uniting estates owned privately and by agricultural enterprises, working in clusters. Each would need a distinct identity. For instance, the Dribin District could be marketed for its felt making, since it has preserved its hand-made production of felt boots.”

Many owners of rural estates are offering a great number of additional services, like mini tourist agencies. Anatoly Ganets, who runs Ganka agro-estate, explains, “To attract tourists for stays of more than a day, we need to offer a diverse entertainment programme. This has led us to develop ‘green’ routes, create tourist clusters and build partnerships with local museums, culture departments and craft centres. Besides organising evenings of classical, folk and jazz music, we run a museum of beekeeping and brewing, and invite guests to go fishing, hunting and bike riding. You can tackle an assault course or take part in team building exercises, as well as many other activities. You can also rest and recuperate at Isloch spa, with whom we’ve signed an agreement.”
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