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Croatia isn’t Opening for Belarusians
жнів 12

Croatia isn’t Opening for Belarusians

Those Belarusians who wanted to spend this summer in Croatia will be disappointed. Information appeared last autumn that the citizens of our country will obtain the possibility to travel to Croatia without visas; however, nothing changed. The Movement For Freedom (MFF) as part of the No Visa! coalition attempted to find out why Belarusians still need visas to go to Croatia.

Belarus and Croatia signed an agreement on cooperation in the area of tourism on October 27, 2010. According to this document, there were plans to open a Belarusian Tourist Information Centre in Croatia in order to attract Croatian tourists to Belarus, and to arrange a direct flight between the two countries. There were also talks about cooperation in the training of personnel for tourism industry, since Belarusians are interested in the successful Croatian experience in this area.

However, the main thing that was declared was the visa-free regime for Belarusians for the tourist season of 2011 from May 1 till October 31.

The Croatian Ministry of Tourism intended to address Croatia’s government with this proposal. “With high probability (90%), this proposal would be satisfied”, assured then Branko Grgić, State Secretary of Croatia’s Ministry of Tourism.

It’s June already, and it can be stated with 100% accuracy that Belarusians can visit Croatia only with visas, even when transiting it. There is neither the Information Centre in Croatia, nor the direct flight…

Belarusians can get visas only in Moscow despite the fact that the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Croatia started its work in Minsk on March 1, 2011.

Visa price for Belarusians is €36 when it is issued in 4 to 7 days, and €71 for urgent issue (1 to 3 days). The following is also needed: a letter of guarantee (invitation) from a Croatian citizen, a confirmation of possession of sufficient money, an insurance certificate, and a return ticket. Additionally, the price of travel to Moscow and of accommodation there should be taken into account.

On behalf of the No Visa! coalition, the MFF contacted the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we were told that there were no plans to abolish visas for Belarusians, and that they didn’t hear anything about the proposal of the Ministry of Tourism. The only possibility for Belarusians to get to Croatia without Croatian visa is to travel there by cruise liner with a Schengen visa in passport – and only for tourist purposes till December 31, 2011.

We have also contacted the Croatian government, and will send it an official request on behalf of the coalition in the nearest future. It doesn’t seem that this issue would be solved this year. The next year, Croatia plans to join the Schengen area.

No Visa! coalition will continue to clear up why Belarusian tourists didn’t obtain the possibility to visit Croatia without visa.

For your reference – Russians, Ukrainians, and Kazakhs have been visiting Croatia without visas during tourist season since 2010. They can stay in Croatia for up to 90 days.

When abolishing the visa regime with Ukraine, the Croatian Ministry of Tourism counted on the rise in the number of Ukrainian tourists of up to 10-14%.

Croatia pursues a very favourable policy in respect of Russian tourists. For example, the prices of accommodation in hotels for visitors from Russia were reduced considerably in 2009. Croatia’s Ministry of Tourism also plans to pay compensations of expenses to Russian tourist companies for their advertising of the opportunities of recreation in Croatia in Russian mass media, and even to pay additionally €20 for each Russian tourist during the “off-season”.

According to the Croatian National Statistics Bureau, 165 thousand tourists from Russia have visited Croatia in 2010, which is 35% higher than in 2009. 50 thousand Ukrainian tourists were registered in 2010, which is 40.7% higher than in the previous year. The abolishment of the visa regime seems to influence Croatia’s tourist attractiveness for Russians and Ukrainians in a really positive way. Meanwhile, the inflow of tourists from Belarus is decreasing – 2,605 tourists in 2010 as compared to 3,547 tourists in 2009.

Darya SLABCHANKA

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