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Russia may launch visa regime for Svalbard.

October 28, 2013, 16:22 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, October 28 (Itar-Tass) - Russia may introduce a visa regime for foreign tourists in the Russian part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism), Alexander Radkov, told a meeting of the Civic Chamber on Monday.

“Arctic tourism is a very interesting and promising type of holiday,” he said. “It should be connected, though, not only with travelling to the Arctic and Antarctica but also with sustainable tourism development in the Russian part of Svalbard and on the Franz Josef Land archipelago (in the far north of Russia).”

Radkov said “a large number of foreign and Russian tourists wish to visit these places, but there are some problems with border controls, especially in Franz Josef Land”.

“We are tackling these problems at the moment. It is likely that a visa will be required to go to Svalbard,” he said. “We have also agreed with the consular department on the possibility of visiting Franz Josef Land despite lack of a screening checkpoint on the border.”

Radkov said “we want to create favourable conditions for tourism development”.

According to Russian tourism experts, Svalbard is visited by 70,000 Russian and foreign tourists annually. About 700 travellers go to Franz Josef Land every year.

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