Two years of a visa-free regime. 130 thousand tourists, 600 new jobs, more than thirty opened catering facilities

Two years ago, a visa-free regime began to operate in the Grodno region. During this time, the region was visited by over 130,000 visa-free tourists. They brought several million dollars to the regional economy, spending it on souvenirs, hotels, Belarusian cuisine and domestic medicine.

70 thousand tourists are not the limit

In 2016 the tourist flow to the Augustow Canal and Grodno itself did not exceed several thousand for the whole year. The same figures were in previous years. But 365 visa-free days changed the guest statistics in the bud. Last year, the region received more than 50,000 visa-free foreigners, when Decree No. 318 came into force, allowing foreigners to visit the territory of the special tourist and recreation park “Avgustovsky Canal” without visas. And this year with the beginning of the Decree No. 462 “On the establishment of a visa-free procedure for the entry and exit of foreign citizens” set a kind of record of visa-free policies - over 70 thousand tourists arrived without a visa to Grodno region.


Most tourists from Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Germany. But the whole geography is much wider - guests from more than 60 countries of the world, from Japan to the United States of America, visited the region. The management of sports and tourism of the regional executive committee said that almost every country has a positive dynamic. Many of those who visited Grodno without a visa, then receive a visa and come to us again to get acquainted with other areas of the republic. Most of the foreign guests are tourists who came to visa-free Grodno as part of organized groups - and these are hundreds of buses crossing the border, and thousands of tours ordered.

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According to the economic committee of the regional executive committee, according to the results of work in January-August this year, the export of tourist services in the Grodno region amounted to 9.3 million dollars. The growth rate is 114.7 percent.

More tourists - more jobs

One of the economic effects of the visa-free regime is the creation of new jobs. In the two years of the visa-free regime, almost 600 new jobs have been created in Grodno and the surrounding area, over 30 catering facilities have opened.

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- Only from the beginning of this year, 15 new cafes, restaurants and other similar institutions appeared in Grodno and the Grodno district. Tax Free system works in more than 40 shopping centers. Before the beginning of the Decree No. 318, there were 9 of them, - they were told in the trade and services department of the Grodno City Executive Committee.

The introduction of a visa-free regime made it possible to attract investors' attention to the construction of new objects of the tourist industry. There are 12 hotels and 3 hostels in Grodno and the surrounding area: 8 of them have opened in recent years.

- Until the end of the year, we expect the opening of two new hotels and 5 hostels with more than 240 beds in the visa-free zone. Work is already underway on the reconstruction of the former hotel "Grodno". The Chinese investor who bought the building plans to create here a complex of a 4-star hotel with 110 rooms and a restaurant with world cuisines. Also in the process of reconstruction hotel "Belarus", - says the head of the department of sports and tourism of the regional executive committee Oleg Andreichik.

Shopping and entertainment for hundreds of euros

Interesting tourists and Belarusian goods. Representatives of travel companies say that over the past year the basket of purchases of a visa-free foreigner has become much heavier. In it, in addition to hotel services and food, visits to museums, exhibitions, performances. Foreigners buy Belarusian shoes, knitwear, outerwear. In great demand food: cheese, cottage cheese, meat products, sweets and alcohol. Come to us to fill up the first-aid kit.

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- Today's purchase check on average a few hundred euros. Among the tourists are not only young people and pensioners, we bring children. So even they have with them no less than a hundred euros for spending in Grodno. There are tourists who come exclusively for shopping. For example, they recently brought foreigners who spent half the day on the Southern market in search of new clothes, said the travel company Zet.

Popular and industrial tourism. More than 3 thousand visa-free tourists became participants of such tours. Over a thousand foreigners used the visa-free regime to rest and improve their health in the sanatoriums of Grodno and the Grodno region, to undergo treatment in clinics and hospitals of the regional center.

The site of the Augustow Canal, medical tourism

The tourism infrastructure of the region has also changed significantly. In the regional center, its surroundings there are more navigation, information objects. The number of events, cultural, sports, animation events has increased. Observation platforms, a panoramic elevator appeared in Grodno, streets are decorated with new art objects, small architectural forms. The site grodnovisafree.by, dedicated to the visa-free region, is operating, the portal of the August Channel has opened.

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Much attention is paid to the development of cycling. For example, the visa-free region is planned to be connected by bicycle routes with the European network. Two transboundary projects are being implemented in this direction. The study of the possibility of attracting additional flights to Grodno airport is continuing. In the future, new international destinations will appear from the railway station.
Редакция газеты «Гродненская правда»