2020, Volume 12, Special Issue 1
Sport and Tourism. Yesterday - Today - Tommorow
Eds. Dariusz Jacek Olszewski-Strzyżowski and Raluca Buhas
Expanding transboundary tourist space – The growing significance of the Augustów Canal
Aliaksandr Cyargeenka1, Marek Więckowski1
1Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences
Author for correspondence: Marek Więckowski; Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: The Belarusian-Polish borderland has great tourism potential but in the same time suffers from many restrictions, especially geopolitical ones. An overall facilitation of foreigners’ trips into Belarus has facilitated the development of cross-border tourism and local resources could be used by tourists. One of the most important tourist attractions is the Augustów Canal. This article seeks to discuss changes made to one border crossing between Poland and Belarus whose location may be considered exceptional, given that it is
on the Augustów Canal.
Material and methods: Analysis of historical, legal and statistical materials; cartographic analysis and fieldwork.
Results: Eased restrictions on crossing the border (i.e. 5 years of gradual, stepwise introduction of visafree regimes and zones by the Belarusian authorities) have combined with the emergence of new possibilities to travel along the Canal by bicycle or on foot to increase numbers of foreign tourists (including Poles) who take advantage of the visa-free opportunities.
Conclusions: Opportunities for the development of tourism (especially of a transboundary nature) are influenced by the simultaneous “internationalisation” and “touristification” of border crossings in Belarus’s western borderland area, which serve as a tourist destination of global significance (the Augustów Canal) and/or traffic at the individual-visitor level. The factor of overriding importance encouraging steady enlargement of tourist space and its utilisation either side of the border is the so-called “Brześć-Grodno Space”, as a visa-free continuous corridor for tourism established in the period since November 2019. This allows for visits into western Belarus, in particular in a south-north direction. The Augustów (Augustovsky) Canal and its Rudawka-Lesnaya border crossing are expected to play a particular part in this process.
Key words: tourism, Poland, Belarus, border, border crossing, the Augustów Canal