MOSCOW, December 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Italy should become more popular for Russian tourists, Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini told a news conference at the Itar-Tass news agency on Monday.
The news conference is timed to opening the Bilateral Year of Tourism in 2013-2014.
“The Year of Tourism is designed to show ‘unknown Italy’ to Russian citizens - new cities and areas, which are still obscure for the public,” the ambassador said.
“Italy possesses of sixty percent of UNESCO heritage,” Ragaglini said, adding “At least 80 percent of sightseeing areas are back from the most famous tours.”
Ragaglini said, “A Russian citizen is a well-informed tourist with the high cultural level.”
“Italy conducts Year of Tourism abroad for the first time. This proves the significance of Russia’s market for Italy’s tourism. As of today Russia ranks seventh on the number of tourists arriving in Italy,” Ragaglini said.
Thus, Italy’s authorities intend to ease a procedure for issuing visas for Russian citizens on the Bilateral Year of Tourism.
“We believe that Russia and the Schengen countries should sign a visa free agreement sooner or later. Today our purpose is to minimize troubles for Russian tourists while receiving an entry visa to Italy,” Ragaglini said.
Free of charge visas will be issued to certain categories - to those who will take part in events within the Bilateral Year of Tourism, to journalists who write about Italy and to tour operators, the Italian ambassador said, adding “This will be related to students and professors who will visit Italy under an exchange program, participants in youth sportive events and children aged up to 12 years, disabled persons and their attendants.”
“In recent times the number of entry visas to Italy has doubled. In 2013 a total of 770,000 visas were issued. The number increased by 22 percent as compared with the year 2012,” Ragaglini said.