Around 244,000 people have visited Belarus via Minsk National Airport since Decree No.8 on the launch of visa-free entry and departure for foreign citizens came into force, Marina Mastashova, a consultant with the tourism department at the Sport and Tourism Ministry of Belarus, told journalists on 18 June.
According to Marina Mastashova, Belarus is becoming more recognizable abroad thanks to the visa-free stay which was extended from 5 to 30 days in 2018.
“Positive results were not long in the coming. As of 6 June 2019, 243,955 people from 71 countries visited Belarus via Minsk National Airport,” Marina Mastashova said. Belarus' valuable tourism source markets included Germany (over 40,000), Italy (over 22,000), Poland (21,800), the United States (16,800), the United Kingdom (16,700), France (11,390), Latvia (8,900), the Netherlands (8,600), Sweden (7,800), and Lithuania (7,100).
According to Marina Mastashova, visa-free program has also enabled Belarus to attract more visitors to special visa-free tourism zones. “Since the launch of the visa-free program in October 2016, Grodno and the Belarusian part of the Augustow Canal have welcomed 193,746 people from over 30 countries,” she noted. “Since 1 January 2018 till 7 June 2019, over 28,820 visa-free tourists visited Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the tourism and recreation zone Brest,” she added.
According to the Belarusian State Border Committee, the top ten countries in terms of the number of visits in 2018 included Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Moldova, Germany, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Israel. “The State Border Committee said that 4,791,951 people visited Belarus in 2018,” Marina Mastashova noted. She also provided data of the National Statistics Committee of Belarus which shows that 365,534 excursionists bought tours to Belarus in 2018, which was up by 21.3% over 2017. Most of them came from Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, China, Spain, Estonia, and the United Kingdom.
Thanks to the hard work of Belarus' tourism industry representatives, ministries, government agencies, and public associations Belarus has made it to the list of the best holiday and travel destinations. In particular, Belarus won the Agrotourism nomination of the National Geographic Traveler Awards 2018 and made it into the top ten travel destinations in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2019 list. Minsk topped the list of The Best European Cities To Visit in 2019 compiled by the British newspaper The Independent.