First visa-free tourists arrived in Belarus from China, Finland and Italy. Starting 12 February citizens of 80 states can spend up to 5 days in the country without a visa.
Journalists didn’t meet the very first visa-free tourist – a Finnish man arrived in Minsk from Slovakia and passed the border control at the airport at 00:01.
Li Yan, another ‘pioneer’ of visa-free entry, came in Minsk from Abu Dhabi. The Chinese, who is an air traffic controller, said she had learned about visa abolition from her colleagues from Russia and Belarus.
Li Yan is going to spend time in Minsk, do the sightseeing and visit museums.
The tourist does not much about the country – she heard that there are wonderful people, great food, beautiful nature and a lot of snow in winter.
In her view, five days is enough to see Belarus.
“Because I can come again and again”, Li Yan said.
Ricardo Bianchi, an Italian, arrived from Milan by Vienna-Minsk plane. He was met by his girlfriend.
“As he comes here often, the abolition of visas was good news for him. But Ricardo says he would like visa-free stay to be longer”, the man’s friend translated.
She said the Italian has been in Belarus over a dozen times already. “He likes castles, nature and churches“, the girl said.
Alex Drozdovskis, a Lithuanian, arrived in Minsk on business at the invitation of a local company.
The man, who is going to spend one day in Belarusian the capital, believes travelling without a visa to be very comfortable. “In Europe we do not have visas”, he said.
Tomasz Ksyazek arrived on a flight from Warsaw.
He came to Belarus for work, but said he wanted to combine business with pleasure and do some sightseeing in Minsk.
“I passed the border control very quickly, I was even surprised”, the traveler said. “But I was asked to show my insurance, I did not expect I would have to.”
The man learned about the abolition of visas for 5-day trips to Belarus from the Polish media.
“It was reported that Lukashenko is making a step to openness. But it was not clear from the article that visa-free entry starts today.”
According to Mikhail Portnoy, the Deputy Minister of Sport and Tourism, said the country expects tourist numbers to rise by 15-20%.
The biggest tourist flows are expected from the EU countries, the USA, and the countries with large diasporas of Belarusian immigrants.