MPs have expressed their hope the European Games can boost tourism to Belarus ©Getty Images

The Minsk 2019 European Games will have a positive impact on Belarus' tourism sector, according to MPs in the country.

The Belarusian capital was confirmed as host of the second Games at the European Olympic Committees (EOC) General Assembly in the city last October.

Minsk was awarded the event after The Netherlands withdrew on the eve of inaugural Games in Baku back in 2015.

Russia then dropped out of the running after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned they would not support events there following allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Vladislav Shchepov, chairman of the House of Representatives' Permanent Commission on Economic Policy, told BelTA the Games would have a positive impact on the tourism sector.

His view was backed by Valery Borodenya, who claimed the event would have a similar impact to the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships, which had a positive impact on visitors to the country.

Extended visa-free stays are expected to be introduced for those attending the 2019 European Games in Minsk.

The proposal was reportedly discussed last month during an open dialogue held by the National Olympic Committee of Belarus.

Currently, citizens from only nine countries can enter Belarus indefinitely without visas.

The number includes just five nations who participate at the European Games: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Russia.

Citizens of five other European countries do not need visas if they are staying for a maximum of either 30 or 90 days.

A new policy introduced in February allows visa-free entry for a maximum of five days from an additional 80 countries, including all European Union citizens, providing they are arriving and departing from Minsk National Airport.

It is hoped the event will have a similar effect on tourism to the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championships ©Getty Images
It is hoped the event will have a similar effect on tourism to the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championships ©Getty Images

By rolling this scheme out further for the European Games, it is hoped it will encourage greater tourism in the country as a whole in addition to the sporting competition itself.

An update is expected to be given to the EOC Executive Committee here today on Minsk 2019's preparations, coming a week after their Coordination Commission visited the city.

The Games programme and the terms of the contract for hosting the event were among the items discussed during the visit.

Plans to include archery and weightlifting on the programme were also reportedly discussed.

The Commission, led by Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, visited proposed competition venues including the Minsk Arena, the Chizhovka Arena, the Dinamo Stadium, Football Manege, the Minsk Sports Palace and the Palova Arena.

It is expected that further details of the Games’ sport programme will be provided here over the next couple of days, with the EOC expected to meet Minsk 2019 organisers.