MINSK, 12 March (BelTA) – A total of 1,300 agricultural estates passed the re-registration in Belarus, Director of the Tourism Department of the Sports and Tourism Ministry Irina Voronovich told BelTA's The Nation Speaks project.

Agricultural estates had to undergo re-registration by 1 July 2023. Estate owners submitted documents for re-registration, after which a commission consisting of representatives of various agencies and local executive committees inspected these facilities to check if they complied with Decree No. 351 as of 4 October 2022. The document is aimed at improving the quality of services, eliminating the possibility of running a hotel or a restaurant under the guise of an agro-eco-estate, and protecting the rights of people living in the neighborhood.

There were 3,150 agro-eco-estates in Belarus as of 1 January 2023. By 1 January 2024, the number of facilities that passed the registration and confirmed their status as agro-eco-estates was 1,300. “Their number has dropped, but this does not mean that these facilities were shut down. They just switched to another format of operation,” said Irina Voronovich.

She explained that the approach to agro-eco-estates and to the way they are taxed is changing. “We had to set things to rights. Before the decree was adopted, some agro-eco-estates operated as hotels and restaurants, so many of them continue to work, but no longer as agro-eco-estates. This was the president’s idea to promote and highlight the traditional way of life in the countryside. Re-registered genuine agro-eco-estates keep working. Facilities that host wedding parties and other events keep working in a different format.”

The purpose of the decree is to preserve the original purpose of agro-eco-estates. “People running such facilities work very hard, this is their pet project. They hold master classes, put their heart and soul into it. This is usually a family business, a way of life. I think that people’s attitudes will change and agro-eco-estates will be perceived not only as places to spend a night or celebrate a wedding, but also as something very traditional and important for Belarusian culture. Agro-eco-estates preserve and promote traditions of a particular region of the country,” Irina Voronovich said.