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MOSCOW, August 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s Union of Travel Industry (RST) has sent an address to Canadian Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Chris Alexander with a request to sort out delays in visas to Russian tourists.
The RST said a strike that officials of the Canadian embassy in Moscow had begun on June 11 continued. Visa delays continue to disrupt expensive study travels and tours forcing tourists to suffer additional expenses and seriously damaging businesses, tour operators said. “In fact, summer holidays to this destination have been disrupted and autumn enrollment of long-term students is under the threat of disruption,” the union said.
Tour operators reported about dozens of Russians who could not fly to Canada over failures in the embassy’s operation.
“Canadian summer has collapsed fully. We had to abandon short-term trips. In June-July our tourist groups from Vladivostok, Ulan-Ude, Novorossiysk and Moscow could not fly to that country. In August we registered zero flights for summer education programs to Canada, therefore we have to retrain our managers for new destinations,” a travel agency representative said.
“Personnel of the Canadian embassy do not answer telephone calls and e-mails. To our official requests they send formal replies, which contain no word about the timeframe for processing documents,” the RST said.
“Every year 50,000-55,000 Russian students go studying abroad and in this sense Canada is in high demand of Russians,” the Union of Travel Industry said adding that in 2012 the Canadian Embassy in Moscow issued around 2,100 short-term and long-term student visas, which is ten times more than in 2002. “This rate could be even higher, as foreign language studies abroad are very popular among Russians, but the strike dramatically worsened the situation,” the RST said.
“Canada lost 65% of the market volume by tourists and short-term students,” tourism industry officials said noting that foreign students brought around 8 billion dollars per year to Canada’s economy. “All this strikes a serious blow to Canada’s reputation as concerns its education and tourism.”