Visa-Free Visits Floated For Airline Transit Passengers
Acquiring a Russian visa is a complicated process that often causes tourists to rethink their journey.
Published: September 11, 2013 (Issue # 1777)
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved new legislation on Sept. 4 that will allow tourists to stay in Russia for up to 72 hours without a visa, a policy estimated to increase tourism by 30 percent.
The Russian Ministry of Culture designed the new law, which updates previous legislation from 1996.
According to the new regulations, foreign citizens visiting Russia by plane as transit passengers can stay in the country for 72 hours without a visa.
The list of countries whose citizens may avail themselves of such benefits, and the list of the airports that will allow such visits, is currently being reviewed by the Russian government.
“I think it should increase the attractiveness of our country for tourists and make the country more open for such kind of contacts,” said Medvedev during a session with the Cabinet of Ministers.
The new legislation is projected to annually increase the stream of foreign tourism coming through Moscow by 20-30 percent while increasing tourist revenue up to 19.1 billion rubles ($572 million) from 13.1 billion rubles ($393 million), according to figures released by the government.
“This legislation refers to the simplification of visa procedures and takes into account the experience of our country as well as some other countries,” said Medvedev.
The provision of being able to stay in a country for 72 hours without a visa is not unique to Russia but already exists in various countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Russia has loosened visa restrictions for short periods in the past as well.
In 2008, nearly 50,000 football fans were allowed to visit Russia without a visa for the UEFA Champions League final between English clubs Chelsea and Manchester United. As a result, visiting fans spent an estimated 1.82 billion rubles ($60 million). Moreover, Moscow received an additional 521 million rubles ($15 million) due to the growth in tourism as a result of the event, according to data provided by Russian Tourism Industry Union.
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