Tourism companies addressed an open letter to the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov with the request to simplify the rules of entry for foreign tourists, writes on Tuesday the newspaper “Kommersant”.
The letter was signed by representatives of eight travel agencies, operating in the field of incoming tourism. Among them, Intourist Thomas Cook, City Sightseeing Moscow, Academservice. They are asked unilaterally to simplify visa regime for foreign travelers.
In particular, the authors of the letter propose to introduce e-visa or visa on arrival pending registration, as well as to abolish visas for transit tourists from Western Europe, who reside in Russia within 72 hours.
The representative of the tour operators emphasize that the existence of tough visa policy is a major deterrent to the growth of inbound tourist flow to Russia.
According to the General Director of “Academservice” (service for hotel booking), Alexander Kurnosova, the complete abolition of visas could gradually increase the tourist flow to Russia from Europe and the U.S. by 30-40%. The CEO of Intourist Thomas Cook Leonid Marmer expects that the abolition of visas will increase the number of tourists from European countries by 25-30% in the first year.
Interlocutors of the edition familiar with the principles of the visa policy of Russia, noted that Lavrov was incorrectly selected as the destination, since the abolition of visas is in the competence of the FSB. At the same time, the authors of the letter recognised that the main purpose of applying to the MFA — publicity.
The press service of the foreign Ministry of the publication promised to give comment later. Lavrov himself on the eve of the early morning flew to Algiers and had not seen the text of the letter, the newspaper said.