The Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Tourist Agency, Sergey Korneev, has hit out at Finland’s decision to tighten up the visa application process for Russian tourists, saying the new requirements could have negative consequences for tourism to Finland, Izvestia reports.
In August, the Finnish government announced it would bring the country into line with other EU Schengen states and require a full range of supporting documents for Russian nationals who apply for visas.
Previously, Finland had waived some of the paperwork requirements but this will now change. The main changes to the system mean that tourists and other private visitors will have to provide more proof of financial means, proof of accommodation during the trip and travel tickets.
Rosturizm’s Korneev told local media that Russians might start to lose interest in applying for visas to Finland. “Finland, because of the proximity, was the first country for Russians to get a visa and gain entry, and then travel to other countries,” the Schengen Visa Info website reports.
The tighter visa application rules were criticized by opposition politician Kai Mykkanen (NCP), but the Head of Visa Unit at the Finnish Consulate General in St Petersburg told News Now Finland the move was something Finland “had to do sooner or later.”
“We’re not doing anything that the other Schengen countries weren’t already doing and we wanted to do it after the summer so that it would affect as little as possible to Russians’ summer vacations,” said Finnish official Anneli Nummelin.