According to some media reports, Russia intends to grant visa-free travel to citizens of up to 11 countries, while also easing entry requirements for citizens of six other countries, including India.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the announcement earlier this week. Lavrov also stated that Russia is working to remove restrictions on the issuance of electronic visas to about 70 countries, with the exception of those considered hostile.
The move is intended to boost tourism in the country, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visa-Free Travel and Easing Conditions for Tourists
The Russian government is working to make it possible for approximately 11 countries to travel without a visa at all times. In addition, the nation wants to make life easier for citizens of six other nations, including Indonesia and India. Additionally, Russia intends to remove limitations on the issuance of electronic visas to about 70 nations.
Also Read: Russia Proposed For Visa-Free Travel Between India And Russia
Re-Starting the E-Visa Scheme
According to Lavrov, Russia intends to restart the e-visa programme that it implemented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The electronic visas were approved three years ago but halted due to the pandemic.
The Russian government hopes to begin implementing previously adopted decisions on electronic visa issuance as soon as possible. The move is intended to make it easier for tourists to visit Russia and to help the tourism industry grow.
Impact on Tourism in Russia
According to the most recent data from the Russian Federation’s Federal Security Service’s Border Guard Service, foreign tourist flow into the country fell by 96.1% in 2022.
Lavrov stated that visa issues did not affect the volume of tourism in Russia, but rather logistical constraints. The decision to discontinue direct flights has complicated logistics.
It’s one thing for business travellers to fly despite layovers, but not every tourist will because tourists may not have long leaves and every day is expensive.
Tourism from India
Between 2016 and 2019, the number of Indian tourists visiting Moscow increased from 61,000 to over a lakh. By 2021, traffic had returned to 40% of pre-pandemic levels. Interestingly, they discovered that 48% of Indian visitors to Moscow in 2021 returned twice that year.
The easing of visa restrictions is expected to increase the number of tourists visiting Russia significantly in the coming years, particularly from India and other friendly countries.
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