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2019 was a record high in terms of the number of visa-free visitors for Grodno and Grodno District. In 2018, the region welcomed about 92,000 visitors as part of the visa-free entry. On 22 October, the regional center celebrated the 100,000th visa-free tourist - Alexander Kuczynski from Bialystok. The man came to Grodno as part of a group of toruists from the eastern regions of Poland. It as his first-ever visit to Grodno.
"For me, that was a big surprise. Of course it was nice. It is interesting to discover Grodno, the city with a soul. There are lots of things to see," Alexander Kuczynski noted. He said that he would definitely return to Grodno together with his wife. In addition to the memorabilia, the guest was given a certificate for two persons for the Festival of National Cultures which Grodno will host in the summer of 2020.
Grodno and the surrounding area became part of the visa free program in October 2016. The flow of tourists is increasing every year. About 250,000 people have taken advantage of this opportunity since the program was launched. This year Grodno has hosted citizens from 37 states. Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Italy and France are the most valuable visitor markets for Grodno.
"Today it is very important to offer visitors an interesting product or event, to tell travelers about them in advance. The region has been working a lot on this. We have launched thematic websites, interactive maps of museums and bike paths. We constantly update the mobile applications about the Augustow Canal, the main routes of the region and attractions," Grodno Oblast Vice Governor Viktor Liskovich said as he welcomed the 100,000th visitor. He stressed that with the expansion of the zone accessible to visa-free tourists throughout the entire Grodno Oblast, this work will be intensified.
Earlier visa-free tourists came to Grodno on average for a day. Today the average stay exceeds 3 days. There is a tangible economic effect from the increase in the number of tourists. Since the program was launched Grodno has seen more than 40 new catering facilities, 7 new hotels and hostels, and more than 600 new jobs. The retail has expanded significantly in the city.
Grodno attracts foreign visitors by the sights, the rich historical past and also events tourism, shopping. Medical and recreational tourism is growing more popular as well.