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YALTA, August 17. /TASS/. Russia’s tourism agency Rosturizm has offered to introduce obligatory fingerprinting for Europeans applying for Russian visas.
"European Union countries introduced obligatory fingerprinting for Russians applying for visas. In response to this obviously unfriendly step, it is planned to introduce a similar requirement [in Russia]," Rosturizm head Oleg Safronov told the Russian State Council’s presidium session on tourism chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Crimea. "However, in our opinion, this will immediately lead to falling tourist flows," Safronov said.
At the same time, visa regime can be eased with some other countries, in particular by introducing visa-free group visits, he added. Safronov noted that it is necessary to introduce amendments to legislature on tourism, making special emphasis on the development of domestic tourism. The Rosturizm head also said that tourism business in Russia lacks transparency. This problem can be solved, he said, by creating a unified list of tourism agencies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered earlier to ease visa regime for some categories of tourists from BRICS countries. "In order to attract foreign tourists, it is probably worth considering to further ease visa regime - for instance, to expand practice of visa-free group exchange. And it can be done for all countries which we call BRICS countries," Putin said.
"In general, Russian and global experience shows that liberalization of visa regime almost always leads to growing tourist flows," Putin said. A good example is the situation with Israel. After easing visa regime, the flow of Israeli tourists to Russia has increased by more than 2 times. A similar situation can be seen in case with Turkey (41% growth) and South Korea (40% growth).
"Of course, it is important to promote more actively vacation and travel opportunities in Russia, to do it both inside the country and abroad, use media and new informational technologies to consistent promotion of Russian tourism, open new tourist offices abroad and tourism information centers in Russia," the president added noting that people should have access to full information about Russia’s tourism potential.