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MOSCOW. April 11 (Itar-Tass) – Spain expects Russian tourist arrivals to grow by 20-25% in 2012, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR).
“The majority of Russian tourists prefer to spend their vacations in Catalonia, the Canary Islands (Tenerife) and the Balearic Islands, but Spain wishes to broaden the geography of tours from Russia. It is planned to launch pilot programs in Almeria, Grand Canaria and Menorca this year. There will be direct flights to Palma-de-Majorca and Valencia, as well,” the Association said.
According to the Spanish Institute for Tourism Research, 918,573 Russian tourists chose Spain last year, which was 44.6% more than the year before. Most of the tourists spent their holidays on the beach, while others went on sightseeing tours. The cost of services provided to the tourists last year exceeded 1.5 billion euros.
The majority of Russian tourist arrivals of last year were organized by tour operators, tourism counselor at the Spanish embassy in Moscow Felix de Paz Garcia-Dias said. Nevertheless, the number of individual tourists grows year to year.
He explained that with a loyal visa policy of the Spanish consulate, which issues entry visas without delay or additional requirements. The number of Spanish entry visas issued to Russian citizens grew by 50% to 700,000 last year, he said.
The positive dynamics remains in 2012. In January-February alone the number of issued visas grew by 40% year to year.
In the words of the tourism counselor, Spain stands for EU-Russia visa-free travel. If the Russians did not have to seek entry visas, Spain could have up to 2 million tourist arrivals from Russia per year, he said.