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VLADIVOSTOK, September 1. /TASS/. The number of foreigners visiting Russia’s Primorye (Maritime territory) in the first half of this year grew 20% year-on-year, the head of the Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm) told Tass on Thursday on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.
Oleg Safonov said 231,800 foreigners visited the region in the first six months of this year. About half of them are Chinese he said, explaining that tourism from China to the region grows due to visa-free package tourism exchanges within an intergovernmental agreement.
Thus, this year Chinese tourism to Primorye has already grown more than 84% year-on-year, to 148,000 people. From 2014, the flow of tourists from China has grown 2.5 times, Rosturizm documents say.
"If a major for Primorye issue of border crossing points is solved, these figures for Primorye and the whole Far East can grow several-fold," Safonov said. These points (which Chinese tourists cross to get into the region) "don’t operate round-the-clock, they have poor material and technical resources, and a low capacity as a result," he added.
According to experts, domestic tourism in Primorye stood at 2.5 million people as of the end of August, which is 44% more throughout 2015.
"This is surprising, this was not the case last year," the Rosturizm head commented.
Commenting on adverse weather conditions in Primorye ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum with typhoon hitting the region and treacherous weather, which is common for the region, Safonov said rain and strong winds had their own beauty if not too strong to lead to emergencies.
"Typhoon is an interesting weather phenomenon if it does not develop into something catastrophic. A person opens a new page when he or she travels, as tourism is a new experience, opening new borders and developing a person," Safonov said.