Russia is planning to introduce an electronic visa regime by 2021 in a bid to boost tourism, RBC reports. Five regions in Russia’s Far East currently offer free week-long e-visas for business and tourist travelers.
President Vladimir Putin has tasked the government to increase tourism revenue to $15.5 billion by 2024.
Russia’s national Digital Economy Program project calls for the e-visa regime to be rolled out nationwide by December 2021, RBC wrote citing the official government document.
The system is reportedly set to be developed by October and later launched as a pilot project at limited border crossings.
RBC did not specify the cost of the e-visa project, which will reportedly include automated border controls and electronic migration cards.
Responsibility for carrying out the e-visa project will be shared between the Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Currently, citizens of 18 countries can get an electronic visa for Russia, including Algeria, Oman, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, Qatar (but the United States and the EU states are not among them). To obtain a visa, tourists need to fill out a form on a special website four days before the expected date of entry. The visa is free, valid for 30 days and allows the tourist to stay in Russia for no more than eight days.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2017 Russia accounted for 3.6% of all tourists in Europe (there were 671.7 million in total, the average trip check was $ 770).