MINSK, March 25 (Itar-Tass) - Belarus has become a popular tourist destination for the Russians. The biggest tourist flows to Belarus are from Russia. According to the Belarusian National Statistics Committee, a total of 3,843 Russians visited Belarus last year as tourists. Besides, hundreds of thousands Russian nationals visited Belarus individually at the invitation of relatives, friends or acquaintances.
More than 3, 500 Turkish tourists visited Belarus in 2011. Fewer tourists came from Lithuania, New Zealand and Poland.
There are several reasons why Belarus is so popular with Russian tourists. First, Russian travelers don’t need visas. They don’t have to undergo passport or customs formalities at the border. Even a foreign passport is not necessary for them. An internal Russian one will be enough to cross the Russian-Belarusian border.
Second, there are no language barriers. Russian is a state language in Belarus. Third, Belarus has very good roads some of which are not worse than in Western Europe. Besides, the republic has several tourist attractions that are well-known far beyond the Belarusian borders. They include the Brest Fortress, a memorial complex in the Khatyn village (it was burnt down by the Nazis during World War Two), the Belovezhskaya Pushcha national park with Father Frost’s residence, Lake Naroch, the Mirskiy and Nesvizhskiy castles and the Stalin Line historical and cultural complex.
Though the quality of tourist services in Belarus leaves much to be desired, they are cheap, and prices for goods are cheaper than in many other European countries.
Finally, medical tourism has become very popular among Russians in recent years. Russian nationals go to Belarus for treatment, operations and even to maternity hospitals. The Russians note a fairly high level of Belarusian medical services and their moderate cost.
In the meanwhile, organized tours to Russia are not so popular in Belarus. Belarusians prefer the warm waters of the sea in southern countries. According to the republic’s statistical committee, Ukraine was the most popular foreign tourist destination last year. Almost 80,000 Belarusians visited it last year. Almost 60,000 Belarusian nationals visited Turkey, about 30,000 to Egypt and more than 25,000 to Bulgaria compared to almost 22,000 who preferred to travel to Russia.