Working trip to Minsk Oblast

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The development of farm tourism will help Belarus breathe new life into unpromising villages. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the working trip to Minsk Oblast on 22 August.

The head of state was made familiar with farm tourism development with farm tourism estates in Volozhin District used an example.

“There are very many villages that used to be labeled unpromising. There are also isolated farmsteads,” noted the President. “Why can’t the people, who grew up there, or businessmen or anyone else build farm tourism estates over there? They would revive the countryside by doing so”. According to the head of state, local residents could help by taking care of the estates.

“I encourage people towards this kind of business. Some of them already do it,” noted the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes that later on owners of such farm tourism estates could gradually develop their estates and set up farming enterprises. “They may breed ponies or a dozen of cows. It will happen,” noted the head of state. “I would like to revive our villages this way. We have built agro-towns, it was a good thing to do, they may evolve into future cities but we have yet to revive these villages and isolated farmsteads as much as possible”. According to the head of state, some businessmen have welcomed the proposal and have started investing into their birthplaces.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that as a transit state Belarus should also put more efforts into developing the motorway service. Instead of greenfield development it is necessary to utilize the populated localities closest to motorways. In his opinion, it will give an incentive for the revival of small communities. “We don’t have to build these motorway service outlets from the ground up. Because there are district capitals every 35-50km on every road. Let’s connect recreation outlets, services, refueling stations to the infrastructure of these district capitals. 35km is no distance at all. We don’t need more frequent outlets than that because they will not have enough workload. By doing so we will be able to revive district capitals and then we will build along motorways,” said the President.

A presidential decree was adopted in Belarus in 2006 to enable effective conditions for the development of farm tourism. The decree allows rural Belarusians to earn extra and contributes to the creation of new jobs and the revival of the countryside on the whole. Farm tourism operators are exempt from taxes. Instead they have to pay an annual fee as small as one base amount. Over the last six years the number of farm tourism estates in Belarus has increased tenfold from 188 to 1,881. With assistance of municipal authorities 22 farm tourism clusters have been established in Belarus to link owners of farm tourism estates with public catering enterprises, farming enterprises, and other service providers. 

OAO Belagroprombank provides preferential loans for project implementation to farm tourism operators. Since the program was launched, Belagroprombank’s loans to the tune of nearly Br30 billion have been used by 471 operators. As of 1 July 2014 amounts payable stood at Br16.5 billion, with overdue amounts payable at Br24 million. The sums indicate that farm tourism operators honor their liabilities to the bank.

“The most important thing is the emergence of an entire class of owners. They have not grabbed their property from someone else. They are people, who have created private property with their honest labor. It is good that there are people like that. The more people like that there are, the stronger the country’s independence is,” stressed the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko examined farm tourism estates, got familiar with the recreation options they offer. Owners of the estates thanked the head of state for the favorable conditions for farm tourism development that had been created in the country. However, the President remarked: “I should be the one to thank you for saving Belarus. If we fail this, the country will be no more”. The President said he believes that demand for this kind of recreation will rise year after year. “Everyone wants some quiet once in a while. And it turns out Belarus is just the place to get it,” said the head of state.