Russia Will Relax Visa Rules after Pandemic to Boost Tourism Industry

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm) wants to help the industry recover from the coronavirus crisis by relaxing visa rules after the country reopens its borders, RBC reported Friday.

According to the agency’s recommendations cited by the news website, Russia should introduce multiple-entry tourist visas valid for up to five years in order to offset heavy losses sustained by all parts of the travel and tourism industry amid the coronavirus lockdowns.

The country has grounded international flights, closed border crossings, and suspended issuing visas and e-visas last month as the country began to see a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Rosturizm warns that the measures will lead to “colossal losses for the economy” of at least 300 billion rubles ($4 billion) per quarter.

Current rules only allow single- and double-entry visas valid for up to 30 days for tourists.

The agency also seeks to cut visa processing time down to three business days. Current tourist visa holders who were unable to travel to Russia due to coronavirus-related restrictions should be able to re-apply for new visas free of charge, according to Rosturizm’s reported recommendations.

Additionally, the agency wants to extend proposed e-visas, which are due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, from 16 days to 90-120 days and make them multiple-entry.

The measures could not only help restore but also increase inbound tourism by up to 30% compared to pre-crisis levels in 2021, Rosturizm’s chief Zarina Doguzova was cited as saying. Tourists around the world have frequently cited difficulties with obtaining visas as a barrier to visiting Russia.

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