For the New Year season travel agencies in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk intend to welcome considerably more guests from Russia than they did last year, BelTA learned from Larisa Petrovskaya, Director of the travel agency Ilva, during a press conference.
The Ilva travel agency is one of the leaders in Vitebsk Oblast's hospitality business and organizes tours all over Belarus primarily for Russians. The number of tourists in Vitebsk, including during the New Year celebration, has increased in comparison with last year. Vitebsk is expected to welcome about 800 clients of the travel agency. Fewer of them will arrive on 31 December – 2 January. Most of them will visit the city on 3-9 January, which is also known as the New Year vacation period.
According to the executive, last year the situation concerning the Russian ruble was very difficult, with many bookings cancelled. This year the situation is more or less stable. Belarus' positive image that the country acquired in the past years is also a factor. "Belarus has a good image. Many admit that they are interested in our country. In the past guests would note upon the cleanliness of our cities. Now they adore the culture, specimens of architecture, and the attitude to history," said Larisa Petrovskaya.
Of the 30 tourist groups, who are expected to travel to Belarus during the holiday season, only four will go to Minsk and Brest right away. The travel agency is trying to reroute the flow to Vitebsk, trying to make Vitebsk part of many itineraries since the northern Belarusian city is less known on the Russian tourism market and the situation needs to be addressed.
According to the source, this year the travel agency has been offering recreation opportunities in pristine natural environments such as the Berezinsky biosphere reserve or the recreation center Krupenino. This kind of vacation is particularly appealing to residents of neighboring large cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. "I would like to mention that tours are now less expensive. Russians travel to Belarus using their own buses since railway tickets are so expensive. The Russian ruble is not getting stronger, our neighbors are not getting richer, this is why frugality is the key. And we have to take it into account," added the Director of the travel agency.