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MOSCOW, March 26. /ITAR-TASS/. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia said on Wednesday it filed a request to the British Embassy in Moscow asking to resolve delays in processing visas for Russian citizens in the shortest possible timeframe.
“Since March 20 our partner, the visa service of the British Consulate, has changed,” the association said.
The British Embassy explained that a decision to appoint a new management company to monitor visa centers and to announce a tender was made last year. The tender was won by Teleperformance that offered best correlation between price and quality. In particular, a fee for urgent visa application was reduced to £100.
“Change of the visa center caught tour operators and tourists off balance and, judging by the number of mistakes, the visa centre itself also seemed not ready to work,” tour operators said in their letter. “Many inconveniences were created for visa processing. Aside from opening an account and filling in a form on the embassy’s website that often works wrong, it is necessary to create an additional account for every tourist in compliance with the new visa center’s rules.”
“However, not every tourist has an e-mail to register on the website of the visa centet. There are many school children and pensioners, who do not use the Internet,” tour operators said. “This takes a lot of time of large tour operators and individuals. Especially, there will be a serious problem for processing visas for groups of tourists going to Britain.”
Representatives of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia believe that difficulties with visa processing may affect the demand for tours to Great Britain.
The British Embassy admitted that such problems existed, adding that delays in visa processing were connected with technical problems. Tourists are recommended to apply for visas four-five weeks ahead of their departure and to pay for trip cancellation insurance.
According to the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, Rostourism, 187,000 Russian tourists visited Britain last year, up by 14% year-on-year.