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MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Russian tour companies are asking the Foreign Ministry to ease the traveling regulations for foreign tourists, Kommersant Daily said on Tuesday.
Specifically, the recommendations that a group of eight operators have sent in a letter for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov include the issuance of electronic visas and the enlargement of visa-free sojourn for transit travelers to 72 hours.
The list of the signatory companies includes Intourist/Thomas Cook, City Sightseeing Moscow and Academservice. Their executives say the stringent visa issuance policies make up the main obstacle towards the buildup of inbound tourism in Russia.
Academservice Director General Alexander Kurnosov believes a full lifting of visas for tourists would help hike the inflow of tourists from Europe and the U.S. by 30% to 40%. "This country need foreign currency revenues now while (inbound) tourism might bring in nice revenues," he told the reporter.
Leonid Marmer, the Director General of Intourist/Thomas Cook said the number of tourists from European countries might go up 25% to 30% already in the first twelve months after the easing of visa regulations.
Inbound tourism displayed steep growth last year on the backdrop of a sharply devaluing ruble. The Federal Service for Statistics said the growth totaled 13.4% from January through September 2015 the best performance indicator in the industry since 2008, Kommersant said.