Exactly two years ago Belarus opened visa-free entry to citizens of 80 countries via Minsk National Airport. The news came as a bombshell and spread like a wildfire.
As early as 12 February, the first visa-free tourists landed in Minsk. They were heartily greeted with flowers and smiling journalists.
Officials called it a real breakthrough, predicting a 15–20% increase in tourist inflows. A year later visa-free stay was extended to up to 30 days. Did Belarus see crowds of tourists? How did they arrive and where did they come from?
Two years of visa-free travel via the airport brought the country 189,000 tourists or about 2% of all foreigners who visited Belarus during this period.
An interesting fact, a temporary visa-free entry for the World Cup in 2014 brought more guests to Belarus than a permanent visa-waiver programme.
Then over 5.3 million guests visited the country, for comparison, there were 4.7 million tourists in 2018.
Most foreigners who used the Minsk airport visa-free option came from Germany, Italy and Poland. The same can not be said about tourists from neighboring Latvia and Lithuania.
This may be due to the fact it is easier for them to go to Belarus by road, even though this way of entering the country is available only in Grodno and Brest at the moment.
Explore the topic: