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Should the city of Pripyat be saved?:

Alexander Lukashenko wants Pripyat area developed

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has issued an instruction to work out a programme for developing the Pripyat River area. The head of state issued the instruction during his working visit to the Gomel oblast on 31 August. “It pains me to see the most beautiful land give so little to people,” said Alexander Lukashenko. Efforts should be focused not only on tourism development but also agribusiness. “Every piece of land should be used. We should use the land the best way we can without any environmental impact,” said the President. According to the head of state, the region is unique in its own ways, although it could use some civilizing. “Let’s take the Pripyat River for example. 575 km long it is, there is no such wonder in other parts of the planet.

It is the Belarusian Amazon River of a kind. Places where the air is so pure, where one breathes so freely are very hard to come by,” remarked the President. “Let’s take what we can from this land. We should do our best to present the land to the world,” added Alexander Lukashenko. There is an abundance of historic facts or natural sights there. In the Gomel oblast the Pripyat wildlife sanctuary has been open for 40 years. It was designed to preserve landscapes and the hydrologic complex of the Belarusian Polesie in its natural state along with preserving and restoring rare and endangered species, studying environmental changes that were brought about by melioration, and detecting consequences of the mankind’s activities.

In 1996 the wildlife sanctuary was converted into the national park Pripyatsky, which attracts over 10,000 tourists every year. In January-July 2009 it provided Br1,204.5 million in tourism services, 70% up on the same period of last year. A unique European project Pripyat Safari is close to completion there. 4,000 hectares has been allocated to demonstrate animals in their natural habitat. Proper infrastructure for water tourism development has been created there, too. The Gomel oblast offers a sightseeing tour “The golden ring of the Gomel oblast”. As long as 820 km it takes visitors through nine communities, with 16 guided tours available. The head of state was told that work is underway to make Belarus’ first known human settlement, Yurovichi, part of the sightseeing tour. Last year 20,000 people, including 2,000 foreign tourists, enjoyed this particular sightseeing tour.

The Gomel oblast also does a lot to promote farm tourism. Over the last three years the number of farm tourism estates has increased by ten times. Belagroprombank offers loans for building farm tourism estates on preferential terms. There are plans to build 43 farm tourism estates by 2010. In 2008-2009 this kind of recreation attracted 3,500 tourists.


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