The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Belarus have embarked on a new initiative to increase the competitiveness of entrepreneurs working in the tourism industry across the country.
Expected to create jobs in four major regions, the programme will train private companies to develop new messages, services and marketing campaigns in order to draw international attention to a country known for its vast unspoiled forests and rich historical heritage.
The initiative will create a map of local tourism hotspots, develop industry plans for each targeted district, and upgrade facilities to align them with international standards. Around 86 per cent of tourism services providers in Belarus are private companies which also employ 82 per cent of all people working in the sector.
The project is being funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and implemented by UNDP, supporting the sustainable development plan of the Belarusian Ministry of Sports and Tourism.
The government has taken bold new steps to open up the country to tourism, kicking off a 30-day visa-free regime for 74 countries and new visa-free policies for selected nations.
As a result of these measures, 4.7 million foreigners visited Belarus in 2018. The travel industry contributed more than 6% to the country’s GDP in 2017, providing 86,000 jobs.
Belarus faces the challenge of catering to more demanding travelers and developing its infrastructure and online connectivity. Employment of the private sector resources and potential for developing local tourism can help overcome these challenges.