There is a tourist boom in Belarus this summer. The lion’s share of visitors is Russians. They come for bank cards, vacations, and shopping for Western companies that left the Russian market because of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Belarus has become a popular destination for Russians. This is confirmed by the data of passenger carriers. So, for some days at the end of August, all tickets for the high-speed train “Lastochka” running between Moscow and Minsk have long been sold out. And the price of one-way tickets for flights before the weekend reaches 460 Belarusian rubles (about 180 euros).

And even though since August 1, Belavia airline has increased the number of flights on the route Minsk – Moscow – Minsk to two dozen per week, Russian carriers often fly to the Belarusian capital, including those from Russian regions.

“Card tourism”.

The increase in passenger traffic from Russia to Belarus became noticeable in late spring 2022 when one of the reasons for such trips was the desire of Russians to get new bank cards. The fact is that with the beginning of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, many Western companies began to impose mass sanctions against the Russian Federation, which also affected the banking sector. Thus, the cards of the most popular international payment systems, Visa and Mastercard, stopped working in Russia. Inside the country, Russians quickly solved the problems with payments through the Mir system. But during stays abroad and for online payments on foreign sites this system is not a solution.

The solution was found in the neighboring countries, where local banks began to open accounts for Russian citizens and issue cards of international payment systems. This scheme turned out to be popular in Belarus, which was confirmed to a DW correspondent in one of the local banks.