The Russian Tourism Office wants to help the industry recover from the Coronavirus crisis by simplifying visa requirements after the country reopens its borders, the RBC news website reported.
Russia has suspended international flights, with the exception of those returning its nationals from abroad. Closed border crossings and the issue of visas and e-visas were suspended last month as the country began to see an increase in Covid-19 cases. Rostourism warns that the measures will result in “colossal losses to the economy” of at least 300 billion rubles (4 billion US dollars) per quarter.
Russia should introduce multiple entry tourist visas valid for up to five years to make up for these losses, according to Rostourism recommendations cited by RBC. The current regulations only allow single and double entry visas, which are valid up to 30 days for tourists.
Rostourism is also trying to reduce the processing time for visas to three working days. Current holders of tourist visas who have not been able to travel to Russia due to restrictions related to coronaviruses should be able to apply for new visas free of charge, according to the recommendations reported by Rostourism. In addition, the Agency would like to extend the proposed electronic visas, which are due to enter into force on January 1, 2021, from 16 days to 90 to 120 days, and for multiple entries.
Rostourism confirmed to RBC-News that it is involved in talks with the State Department and other agencies on “a large block of visa simplification issues.” It was not immediately clear whether the State Department, which drafted its own laws to ease visa requirements for tourists before the outbreak, would accept Rostourism’s recommendations.
The measures could not only help to restore domestic tourism, but also increase it by up to 30 percent compared to pre-crisis levels in 2021, Rostourism chief Zarina Doguzova was quoted as saying. Tourists around the world often have stated difficulties in issuing visas as an obstacle to visiting Russia.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal