Russia may introduce visa-free regime for several European countries
The Association of Tour Operators of Russia launched an initiative aimed at abolishing visas for tourists from Spain, Italy and Greece. The proposal was sent to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov on October, 8. The aim of the innovation is to maintain the tourist flow into the country. According to the tour operators, the choice of the concrete countries is due to the active cooperation with them in the market and their high loyalty in business.
“Measures of visa liberalization could concern those countries that, firstly, provide a large entry flow of tourists and, secondly, are loyal to the Russian travelers. These three countries have shown the maximum attention and care for Russian tourists which means they are concerned about the tourist relations between our countries”, – the executive director of ATOR Maya Lomidze is quoted by the news agency TASS.
Tour operators are concerned about the possible complication of the procedure for obtaining Russian visa by foreigners. In particular, it is mentioned in their appeal about the increased calls to introduce biometrics to obtain Russian visa in the same way as it was done for Schengen visas.
“These measures will lead to the fact that Russia will lose its tourist attractiveness for foreign tourists. The situation with the United Kingdom can confirm the pernicious influence of the Russian introduction of biometric visas. The flow of tourist from the United Kingdom which for the first time used the biometric system for issuing visas in this tourist season, has almost completely stopped”, stress the operators.
In case it will be decided to toughen up the bureaucratic procedure, the operators ask to open an additional number of visa centers in all the cities of Europe and not only in those which have the Russian Consulates.