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European countries start simplifying visa rules for Russian tourists — newspaper

March 26, 2014, 10:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Italy was the first country to make this announcement ahead the holiday season

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Tourists at the Coliseum in Rome (archive)

Tourists at the Coliseum in Rome (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Uzakov

MOSCOW, March 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Several European countries announced easier visa rules for Russian tourists ahead of the holiday season.

Italy was the first country to make this announcement, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily reported on Wednesday. Within the framework of Russia-Italy cross-year of tourism Italy simplifies visa regulations.

Italian visas will be issued free-of-charge to Russian tourists wishing to attend performances of Arena di Verona, an open air opera theatre, to visit a summer opera festival in the hilltown of Macerata or an exhibition devoted to the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo’s death that will take place in Rome from May 14 to September 28, says Italian ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini.

Moreover, multiple and free visas will be issued to benefit-entitled citizens, tourism industry specialists, students and participants in joint events.

Greece is another country to make visa rules easier for Russian travelers.

“We met embassy officials,” executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze said. “They assured us they will be maximally loyal to visa processing for Russian tourists and will do this in a maximally short timeframe.”

Recently Consul General at the US Embassy in Moscow Julie Kavanagh also promised to speed up visa processing and improve quality of services. Last year the embassy processed a record high number of non-immigration visas, over 250,000, Sheila Gwaltney, Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow said, adding that this year they expected higher results.

To be maximally confident in visa regulations in the run up to the high tourist season, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia has filed official requests to consulates of European countries, most popular destinations for Russian travelers, asking them to explain whether visa rules will be changed or not.

“Many European consulates assured us in words that former visa regulations will remain unchanged,” Lomidze said. “But now we need a written confirmation to guarantee quietness to the tourism business and tourists.

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