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The number of foreign tourist groups in Grodno Oblast rose by a third in 2019, BelTA learned from the sport and tourism department of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee.
The growth trend has been in place for a number of past years. Some 38,000 tourist groups visited Grodno Oblast in 2017. There were about 98,000 tourist groups in 2018 and over 125,000 in 2019 (up 32%).
“The majority of tourist groups came from Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia. The number of tourists from the Czech Republic and Germany almost doubled,” said representatives of the sport and tourism department. The new visa-free rules contributed to the growth of tourist flows. In November 2019 the whole territory of the region was made visa-free for group visits.
The average stay of tourists in the region exceeded two days last year. Over Br2.3 million was spent on tours alone. The export of tourist services in the region exceeded $15 million in 2019, up 11% from the previous year.
Foreign tourists are interested in the region's historical sites and its cultural features. Tourists are also drawn by various events, including music festivals, sports and educational events such as the traditional car festival near Grodno, the Susedzi bicycle marathon on the Augustow Canal, and the hop, water and malt festival in Lida. This year the calendar of tourist events will be complemented by the 13th Festival of National Cultures, which Grodno will host in early June. Work is underway to consider possibilities of organizing cross-border tourist routes, which, for example, would link Poland, Belarus and Lithuania.
Recuperation and medical tourism becomes more popular with foreign tourists. In 2018, the region’s spa resorts welcomed about 1,000 visa-free tourists. The number reached 2,000 in 2019. Since the start of 2020 more than 600 tourists came to the region’s spa resorts visa free.
In January-February 2020 Grodno Oblast has already welcomed over 19,000 visa-free tourists. This is 20% up from the same period last year. Experts, however, are cautious in making further predictions. The situation with the coronavirus may affect the tourist flow.
According to the sport and tourism department, 65 hotels of Grodno Oblast are not enough to accommodate all the tourists that wish to visit the region. This is a signal to potential investors. With the tourist flow growing, there will be a continued need for such facilities.