Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Connections between Scientific Research and Education in the Field of Tourism and Leisure in Belarus

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Connections between Scientific Research and Education in the Field of Tourism and Leisure in Belarus

Article excerpt

Introduction

Belarus is situated in Eastern Europe and is among the countries with a transitive economy. The country has flat relief and does not have access to the sea; hence, there are no large regions of the traditional tourism attractions such as beach-bathing or mountain skiing. The main tourist resorts are Minsk, Vitebsk, Grodno, Polotsk and Brest, possessing lots of objects of cognitive and business tourism on the one hand, and well-developed tourist infrastructure on the other. Natural objects of tourism are the national parks Belovezhskaya pushcha, Braslav Lakes, Naroch, Pripyat and Berezenski Reserve. A separate group of destinations (attractions) form Belarusian Castles such as Mirski, Nesvizhski, Lidski and others. Slavyanski Bazar, the festival of arts, stands out in the market of event tourism. In 2014 Belarus was hosted the World Hockey Championship, which is expected to gave impetus to the development of the tourism industry. According to the statistical reports of hotels, tourist flow to Belarus comes mostly from Russia (61.3%), followed by Ukraine; however, the percentage difference is significant (7.0%), Poland (4.4%), Germany (3.6%), Lithuania (3.2%), Latvia (2.2%) and Italy (2.1%). The tourist flow from other countries is insignificant (http://www.belstat. gov.by, 2014). In 2014 there were 530 hotels in Belarus. Among these there are only three five-star hotels, six four-star hotels, 32 three-star hotels and 489 hotels with no category (http://www.belstat.gov.by). On the whole, the hotel industry needs new investments, and hotels in provincial towns are in need of renovation and repair.

The objective of this paper is to characterize the development of tourism in Belarus and the orientation of the tourism research and education in the particular period of the development of the country.

Development of tourism in Belarus

The history of tourism development in Belarus consists of three phases: each is characterized by fundamentally different economic models providing functioning of the tourism industry and the nature of the factors of tourism development (Gaidukevich, Tarasionak, Reshetnikov, Poleschuk, 2001).

The first stage was the period when the tourism in Belarus appeared as a new socioeconomic phenomenon (at the beginning of the nineteenth century to 1918). The second stage was the period of tourism development within the framework of the socialist economic model (1919-91). The third stage was the development of tourism in Belarus as an independent state and the establishment of market relations (1992).

During the first stage, the development of Belarusian tourism took place under the influence of economic processes inherent in the Russian Empire, whose constituent part Belarus was. At that time, the formation of railway transport infrastructure took place, and there appeared a demand for travel and resort services by the middle class. It was also in that time that the first local histories and bicycle clubs appeared. In the early twentieth century the first balnearies and climatic spas functioned in Barkovschina (Ushachsky district), Dubrov-no, Cherven (Igumen) and Zhdanovichy. However, the agrarian way of life of the Belarusian economy, which stably formed while Belarus was a part of the Russian Empire, impeded the development of the tourism industry.

In the period when socialist economic model dominated, (the second stage) the development of tourism was uneven; there can be distinguished three periods in the development: 1919-41, 1945-70 and 1971-91. In general, this was the time when all the tourist complexes of the USSR, and Belarus in particular, was under rigid centralized control. Market mechanisms of development in the tourism industry were ignored and were subject to ideological, political and even military-strategic interests of the Soviet Union. Therefore, in the period of 1919-41 there was practically no development of the tourism industry in Belarus, despite the enormous success of the so-called 'proletarian tourism', which was apparent in the development of tourism industry in the metropolitan regions of the Crimea and the Caucasus. …

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