It will be easier for foreign tourists to come to Russia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Russian government to submit before July 1, 2012 the proposals on simplification of visa and registration regime for foreign tourists in Russia.
The reason for this initiative was the reduction of tourist flow into the country during the last seven years. Thus, since 2004 the number of tourists declined from 3 million to 2 million during the last year. In general, the tourism potential of Russia is highly appreciated by foreign experts, and the visa problem is always cited as one of the major factors impeding the development of the tourism industry. Therefore, the experts estimate the President's initiative as positive, predicting the increase of tourist flow to 25%.
Also forthcoming simplification of visa formalities will affect passengers of cruise ships and yachts. This will help not only the St. Petersburg tourist shipping, but also public projects of special economic zones, such as “Resorts of the North Caucasus” and “Baikal harbor”.
Some experts believe that one of the best solutions of this issue will be the introduction of unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of the European Union.
The foreign experts maintain their Russian colleagues. So, a spokesman of the UN World Tourism Organization Marcelo Risi noted that Russia limits by itself the entry tourist flow, setting strict immigration rules, while paying little attention to sites advertising in the West.
“We are convinced that you have to rely on cultural tourism, which shows the traditions of the country and its folklore features” – quotes the newspaper “Moscow News” the words of Risi.
The Russian tour operators readily responded to the proposal of the President. In particular, they propose to reduce the number of documents required for visa processing. “Foreigners are ready to pay 35 euros, – he explained. – They are not ready to collect a lot of documents. For example, why the Russian consulates require both the invitation from the tour operators and the proof of payment of the hotel?” – quotes the agency “Interfax the words of Sergei Voitovich, the president of the travel company “Svoy-TT”. Also, the tour operators offer to optimize the documents circulation with foreign tour operators introducing the use of the program EVA (Electronic Visa Application Form), which will significantly reduce the time and expense for the visa.