Posted: 17.11.2021 09:02:00

Belarus seeks to restore tourist flow

Last summer, Russian tourists spent $242.8m in Belarus – occupying the second place after Turkey, as a recent study of SberIndex laboratory and the OneTwoTrip travel planning service indicates

Obviously, travellers feel safe in Belarus against the background of the coronavirus pandemic. They also appreciate the lifting of certain restrictions on movement between the two countries and Belarus’ hospitality efforts.

The land borders between Belarus and Russia are not fully open yet, but air traffic is being resumed at a quick pace. In early September, Russia lifted all restrictions introduced during the pandemic. As a result, Belavia and then Aeroflot increased the number of flights between Minsk and Moscow, and other cities. Flights to St. Petersburg joined – followed by Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Rostov‑on-Don, Kazan, Samara, Cherepovets, Kaliningrad, Kaluga... In addition, Azimut, Nordwind Airline, Severstal, Rossiya, and SKOL planes now service the routes to Minsk from different Russian cities.

The tourism industry has perked up. “Expansion of the flight programme from Russian regions is leading to a systematic increase in demand for Belarusian tourist products – primarily, related to health recuperation and wellness holidays,” the Chairman of the Board of the Republican Union of Tourism Industry, Filipp Guly, said.

The situation with passenger rail traffic also inspires optimism. Back in winter, it was frozen but the situation began changing in April. Since then, Lastochka electric trains enjoy popularity as they cover the distance between Moscow and Minsk in just seven hours – travelling daily. Moreover, since October 1st, five-car trains were replaced with 10-car ones.

Moreover, restoration of the Belarusian travel vector among Russians was facilitated by Minsk’s lifting of the requirement of self-isolation for those with COVID‑19 vaccination certificates.

Coronavirus inspired tourism industry representatives to develop new routes. As a result, traditional destinations in Belarus have been supplemented with interesting travels to the country’s regions. For example, not long ago, two new tourist routes dedicated to ancient castles, churches and other unusual places of the region were presented in Grodno. One of them covers the Novogrudok District known for its multi-confessional traditions. The route embraces almost two dozen objects: St. Eliseevsky Lavrishevsky Monastery, the Farny Roman Catholic Church in Novogrudok, local Orthodox and Catholic churches, and mosques. Another route connects the Oshmyany and Smorgon districts, with the castles in Golshany and Krevo becoming its key points.

Belarusian agro-ecotourism – which slowed down due to the pandemic – is now reviving: farmsteads’ popularity among travellers is resuming.

In addition, a popular pre-COVID offer – recuperation at Belarusian resorts – is reviving and, thanks to discounts and promotions, local sanatoriums are almost fully occupied in autumn. Active sales of winter vouchers to health resorts for Christmas and New Year celebrations have started as well.

Speaking of the current situation in the tourism industry, representatives of Belarus’ Ministry of Sports and Tourism admit that pre-COVID figures have not been achieved yet but foreign partners, including those from Russia, are showing interest in the country.

“This year has demonstrated that it is possible and necessary to holiday in Belarus. Our tourism branch offers many opportunities for this,” Irina Voronovich, the Director of the Tourism Department at the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, noted.