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MOSCOW, December 2 (Itar-Tass) — The Polish authorities have said they were ready to issue five-year Schengen visas to Russians in case they have two used such visas, the Kommersant writes. Russian travel industry experts say the move would increase the tourist flow to Poland. So far, however, tourists have to face tremendous difficulties to get Polish visas for the period of New Year vacations.
In a letter to Russian travel agencies, head of Polish embassy’s consular department Mihal Greszylo wrote that applicants for tourist visas to Poland, who have two used Schengen visas in their passports, may ask for multiple visas for the term of five years.
The Russian Travel Industry Union described the move as unprecedented, noting that other European Union countries refuse to issue long-term entry visas to Russians. Nonetheless, according to the Union’s press secretary Irina Tyurina, mane countries have eased visa-issuance procedures for Russian tourists. Thus, after Spain introduced multiple six-month visas, the tourist flow to that country from Russia has considerably increased. “But even now, to get a one-year Schengen visa is good, to get a two-year visa is luck, and to get a five-year visa is fantastic,” she said. Russian travel industry experts predict a considerable growth in the number of tourists from Russia to Poland, which is a transit country for bus travels to Europe.
The statement of Polish diplomats seem to run counter to the consulate’s current policies, the Kommersant writes. Visa formalities at the Polish consulate are among the strictest in the countries of the Schengen zone, and the consulate prefers to issue single-entry visas or multi-entry visas only valid for the term of the trip. Moreover, the Polish consulate still has no visa centre to avoid queues. In late November, Russian travel operators complained about sluggishness of the consular service.
The Kommersant points to an important reservation spelled out in Greczylo’s letter, i.e. five-year visas are to be issues “individually.” The executive director of the Association of Russian Travel Operators, Maya Lomidze, said that “no one has yet seen” a five-year Polish visa, and it is not clear when and how such visas are to be issued.