Russian Tour Operators Want Simplified Visa Procedures in More Regions

More Russian regions should offer simplified visa requirements to foreign tourists, which would stimulate a rise in the number of tourists visiting the country by at least 10%, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has said, according to RIA news agency.

ATOR’s vice president Dmitry Gorin, who is also an advisor to the head of national tourism agency Rosturizm, said that the United States is traditionally among the top three leaders in organized tourism in Russia, second only to China and Germany. Since 2012, a 14% increase in the number of tourists from the USA to Russia has been registered.

“We issued 250 thousand visas in 2016. We do not yet have statistics for 2018, as the year is not over yet. But next year, I think we will issue from 150 to 200 thousand visas across the country,” he said, adding that visa denials amount to about 10%.

Russia’s Economic Development Ministry said earlier that a plan to liberalize visa requirements on equal terms with specific countries for foreign travelers visiting Russia for tourism, medical, educational, business, humanitarian and athletic purposes, may become one of the steps substantially influencing the growth of tourism services.

“Currently, those who receive an electronic visa to travel to Russia’s Far East, obtain it in four days, (free of charge), and it expires in 30 days but allows an extra eight-day visa-free stay on the territory of the Russian region that the traveler had entered. In Kaliningrad, this mechanism will come into force starting July 2019,” Gorin said in an interview with TASS, adding that ATOR “promotes to increase the number of regions offering that kind of entry.”