Belarus health tourism depends heavily on Russia

 

With the number of Russian tourists falling, Belarus is concerned that this will hit health tourism.

Exactly how many Russians go to Belarus as health tourists, and how badly the fall in the number of Russians travelling abroad will hit Belarus, is not known. The full impact will not be clear until the tourist season much later in 2015.

Belarus topped the list of the CIS member states in terms of the visits of Russian tourists in 2014- according to Russian online hotel booking service Oktogo.ru. Belarus is followed by Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The Oktogo statistics shows that in 2014 Belarus accounts for 32% of all trips made by Russian tourists to the CIS member states. Ukraine accounts for 21% of trips and Kazakhstan for 17%. The number of trips to Ukraine has halved.

Russian tourists going to Belarus independently, not through travel agencies, stay in the country for three days on average.

The Oktogo rating is based on online hotel bookings by Russians in the CIS member states in 2014.

80 to 90% of Russian visitors to Belarus are health tourists, claims the Russian Tourist Industry Union, but local trade sources say this figure is too high and has no source.

Russian tourists speak highly of the quality of medical services, and attitude of personnel to clients in Belarusian health resorts.

The Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI) claims that Russian tourists go to Belarus for 10-12 days, a figure contradicted by the booking data from Oktogo.

What may be happening is that Russians will still travel to Belarus, but for much shorter stays and at cheaper hotels, so the big unknown is whether they will or will not still spend their roubles on healthcare.

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