MOSCOW, August 9. /TASS/. The tourism industry appreciates the introduction of e-visa system in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok as it may increase tourist inflow, as well as the country’s foreign currency revenue, said Alexander Kurnosov, the Vice President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR).
"Undoubtedly, the tourism industry welcomes this move because we have been asking the government for a long time to ease visa restrictions," he said. "The reason is that the easing of visa rules will significantly increase tourist inflow to Russia, as well as the country’s foreign currency revenue, because tourism is a thing to export. We receive foreign currency that way," Kurnosov added. According to him, the positive expectations are based on the global experience concerning such steps, however, it is too early to say if the mechanism will prove effective in Russia.
Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) said earlier that the first 90 e-visas had been issued through a special website set up by the Interior Ministry. According to Rostourism, 42 applications were received from Chinese citizens, while Japanese nationals filed 38 applications. Besides, e-visas were issued to the citizens of Algeria (two), India (one), Iran (two), Kuwait (one), Saudi Arabia (two), Singapore (one) and Tunisia (one).
Rostourism Chief Oleg Safonov said that the demand for trips to Russia had been growing all over the world. In the first six months of 2017, Chinese tourists made 32% more trips to Russia as compared to the same period in 2016. The number of trips made by Japanese tourists grew by 14%, while Iranian tourists made 9% more trips.
The testing of the new e-visa system began on August 1 in Vladivostok and two crossing points (a sea crossing point and Knevichi 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.