In recent years, the global tourism market has radically changed its development vectors. The pandemic, sanctions, and political tension have forced everyone, without exception, to reconsider their approaches to travel. The absolute trend of the present time is domestic tourism. Our reporters found out where to look for the most profitable and unusual offers for a quality holiday in Belarus.
The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko,
“It is necessary to pay more attention to advertising the available offers for family and tourist holidays. Taking into account the fact that such holidays are in significant demand, consider expanding the range of environmental and educational tourism services provided.”
During the setting of new tasks for the Belarus Presidential Property Management Directorate
on August 22nd, 2022
Rediscover the Brest Fortress
The Brest Hero Fortress Memorial Complex is one of the most visited tourist sites in the country.
For many years now, on June 22nd at 4 am, a large-scale military-historical reconstruction of the first battles of the Great Patriotic War has been held here. And every year something new appears in the Brest Fortress. Since 2015, there have been new exhibitions here — Museum of War — Territory of Peace and Chronicle of the Brest Fortress. In particular, an additional excursion route to the basements of the 333rd regiment has appeared. In 2018, the implementation of the Union State project began. During this time, some buildings and ruins were overhauled and restored. And in 2021, a permanent exhibition was opened in Fort No. 5, dedicated to the history of fortification. In 2022, more than 34 thousand people visited the fort, and over 900 excursions were held there last year.
Virtual walks and real history
But what about unexpected tourist sites and routes on the map of your home country? Director of the National Tourism Agency Dmitry Morozov says, “This year, in the wake of the 2nd CIS Games, quite a lot of completely new sightseeing tours have appeared in the cities where the competitions are held — Molodechno, Zhlobin, Soligorsk and others. Previously, there were no well-developed approved texts for excursions, and there were no trained personnel. But a grandiose sporting event attracted guests to these places.”
In addition, new museum institutions are appearing on the basis of historical objects, which have been actively restored in recent years.
“We used to have one bright cluster — Mir – Nesvizh. Now Kossovo – Ruzhany is competing with it in a good way. The popularity of the route Bobruisk – Zhilichy –Krasny Bereg is growing rapidly. Recently, after a long reconstruction, the luxurious Bulgakov Palace opened its doors to visitors. In the north-west of the country — Krevo – Golshany. There is still partial restoration and conservation going on, but branches of local museums are quite active in working with tourists,” Dmitry Morozov enumerates.
Today, traditional excursions have begun to be supplemented with virtual tourism products.
“In the Bereza Historic and Regional Studies Museum, the exhibition Bereza-Kartuzskaya created a three-dimensional tour. To fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the difficult interwar period, you can use a digital on-site guide. Minsk has a virtual tour dedicated to the Stalag-352 concentration camp. An unusual approach in terms of graphics; the memories of prisoners of war are heard in audio format,” the Director of the National Agency explained.
The scale of industrial tourism is also growing. Today, more and more enterprises of various profiles invite adults and children to get acquainted with technological processes at various levels — from creating candies and sewing clothes to assembling dump trucks. What is important is that they are now trying to supplement classic excursions with unusual, memorable details.
Did you go on vacation? Tell about it!
In order to popularise domestic tourism in Belarus, this year the social advertising competition called #ПознайБеларусь (#DiscoverBelarus) was held for the third time. Interest in it from the participants is only growing.
For more than twenty years, a nationwide tourism competition has been held in the country. The winners are selected in 13 categories — agro-estate, travel company, tour guide, sanatorium, museum, accommodation facility, event, eco-, religious and industrial tourism object, photo and publication in the media, and the most active traveller who took the largest number of photographs against the backdrop of the country’s attractions. The winners receive not only valuable prizes, but also the opportunity to provide information support for their facilities and services — this is expensive in our time.
Don’t forget that a powerful tool these days is content from ordinary people on social networks. First-hand impressions, vivid photographs, up-to-date data — all this is very important for the tourism industry.
Popular visa-free regime
Since January 1st, 384,343 residents of neighbouring EU countries have used visa-free entry into Belarus. Including 231,605 citizens of Lithuania, 88,501 citizens and 27,016 non-citizens of Latvia, as well as 37,221 citizens of Poland (according to the Border Committee of Belarus as of 11/20/2023). Many of them came specifically for tourism purposes. The authorities of those countries do not like this. For all sorts of far-fetched reasons, they are trying to limit the travel of their citizens to us. Belarus is an open state and welcomes guests.
The Sports and Tourism Ministry noted that inbound tourism is performing well this year. Of course, the vast majority of tourists are from Russia. But there are many visitors from Turkey, China, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Many people are interested in sanatorium-resort treatment, sightseeing, and nature tours.
In January – July of this year alone, the volume of exports of tourism services exceeded $116 million (an increase of 135 percent compared to the same period last year).
There are about 1,200 tour guides working in the country. Their number is growing every year: this year more than a hundred new specialists were certified. However, this is not yet enough — specialists are needed for new popular routes. For example, in Kossovo-Ruzhany.
Another popular area where accredited specialists are always needed are routes to historical sites, which are associated with the study of history in schools. Today, great emphasis is placed on ensuring that the younger generation studies the country’s past not from dry figures and facts from textbooks, but in a living and accessible form. Activities outside the classroom are welcome.
Book for next year
How much does a vacation in Belarus cost? Experts tried to calculate the arithmetic mean more than once, but they never came up with a figure.
“Each person has his own capabilities and needs. Some people like kayaking and spending the night in a tent on the river bank, while others relax on a grand scale in hotels with spa complexes,” Director of the Tourism Department of the Belarusian Sport and Tourism Ministry Irina Voronovich explains.
“But for a general understanding, you can take the most popular type of vacation in the country — sanatorium-resort. The average bill for seven days is about a thousand Belarusian roubles. This includes accommodation, food, treatment in a mid-level health resort,” Director of the National Tourism Agency Dmitry Morozov, said.
In the summer, Belarusian sanatoriums were fully booked; right now it is very difficult to find a ticket for the next month. Bookings are already underway for next year.
“This speaks better than any numbers about the real demand both from our citizens and from foreigners,” Irina Voronovich emphasised.