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Expert says introduction of e-visas unlikely to increase tourist inflow to Russia

The testing of the new e-visa system began on August 1 in Vladivostok

MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. The introduction of e-visas at Russia’s far eastern free port of Vladivostok will not increase tourist inflow to Russia at the moment, said Ivan Vvedensky, the chairman of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) Commission for the support and development of inbound tourism.

"There will be no hype about e-visas right now," he said. "The Far East is a special region, besides, there is a specific list of countries whose citizens may be provided with e-visas," Vvedensky added commenting on the full introduction of the e-visa system in the Far East.

At the same time, the expert likened the visa liberalization program to the state policy aimed at creating favorable investment conditions, pointing out that this step proved Russia’s serious intentions,.

In Vvedensky’s opinion, the area where e-visas are valid can only be expanded in a couple of years as "the necessary technologies and e-service have not been honed yet, as well as interaction between various agencies."

Vvedensly said earlier that the visa liberalization required the establishment of an electronic document management system throughout Russia, besides, visa validity period needed to be extended so that tourists could take advantage of multiple entries within a long period of time. In addition, it is necessary that invitation letters from hosts and hotel bookings are accepted as main documents needed for visa issuance.

The testing of the new e-visa system began on August 1 in Vladivostok and two crossing points (a sea crossing point and Knevich airport), while on August 8, the Russian Interior Ministry’s website for the issuance of e-visas was launched.

E-visas are valid for 30 days, providing foreign citizens with the right to stay in Russia for up to eight days. E-visa holders are only eligible to remain on the territory of the Russian region which they enter first, which currently means only in the far eastern Primorye region. In the future, crossing points for e-visa holders are planned to be set up in the Kamchatka, Khabarovsk and Sakhalin regions, as well as in the Chukotka Autonomous District.