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ST. PETERSBURG, February 20 (Itar-Tass) — Starting from March 1, 2012, Finland will introduce new rules for travellers and cruise ships’ passengers, spokesman for the North-Western Regional Branch of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Pavel Rumyantsev told Itar-Tass on Monday.
He noted that the passengers of ships who intend to get off the ferry in Helsinki for a walk around the capital will now have to pass border control as those who have entered the Schengen zone. When returning on board of the ship, they will have their documents stamped as leaving the Schengen area. Thus, passengers who have only a single Schengen visa will be able to choose only one port for coming ashore. The travellers who possess multiple visas will have the opportunity to come ashore in each city port. If a tourist with a single visa goes to the city from the vessel and forgets something on board, he can return to the ship, take the thing he needs and then continue his familiarization with the city. However, in this case the citizen will be accompanied by a border guard. Passengers who are not leaving the ferry, do not need a Schengen visa.
St. Petersburg residents travel on cruise ships more often than other Russians. The Princess Mary and Princess Anastasia cruise ships depart from St. Petersburg, and almost all of their passengers (about 95 percent) have multiple entry visas.
In 2011, about one million visas to Finland were issued in Russia. The country’s General Consulate in St. Petersburg during the year examined more than 900,000 applications for a visa - 26 percent more than during the previous year. The number of those wishing to obtain a Finnish visa became significantly higher in Moscow and cities of the country’s North-West region.