From 2021, citizens of more than 50 countries will have the opportunity to visit Russia with an electronic visa.
The corresponding list on Wednesday, October 7, was approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
For example, residents of the European Union, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Japan, as well as some other Asian and Middle Eastern countries will be able to obtain an electronic visa to Russia.
“The list includes 52 countries.
These are all those states whose citizens were allowed to enter Russia on an electronic visa as part of a pilot project.
Qatar is not included in the list, since a visa-free regime has been in effect between our countries since February 23, 2020, ”the Cabinet of Ministers said.
Note that the pilot project on the introduction of an electronic visa started in 2017, but had a number of limitations.
Thus, foreigners could cross the border only through border checkpoints in the Far Eastern Federal District, St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions.
Moreover, visiting citizens could not leave these regions.
“Now the e-visa will be distributed throughout Russia.
It will be possible to cross the border through any specially equipped checkpoint, regardless of the region, and travel throughout the country.
In addition, the period of stay of foreign citizens in Russia will increase from 8 to 16 days, ”the government said.
An electronic visa can be issued on the Internet for tourist, business, humanitarian and guest trips.
At the same time, to obtain it, you will not need invitations, hotel bookings or other documents confirming the purpose of the trip.
The consular fee will be $ 40, and children under six years old will be issued a visa free of charge.
The government expects that the introduction of an electronic visa "will help the development of tourism, increase the investment attractiveness of the regions and will contribute to the growth of the economy as a whole."
According to the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RST), in 2019 the number of foreign citizens visiting Russia increased by more than 20% compared to 2018.
In total, over the past year, thanks to foreign tourists, the country's economy received about $ 10 billion.
Meanwhile, in 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the introduction of quarantine restrictions and the closure of borders, the Russian tourism industry suffered significant losses.
This was announced on September 30 during a press conference by the President of the PCT Andrei Ignatiev.
“We estimate the losses from the closure of borders for inbound tourism at about $ 7 billion; by the end of the year, I think they will be estimated at about $ 8-9 billion,” he said.
© Evgeny Biyatov
As Ignatiev said in an interview with RT, the experiment with the introduction of electronic visas was considered successful.
As a result, the authorities decided to expand the project to the whole country as one of the main incentive measures for tourism recovery.
“For example, in March 2020 alone, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued 151 thousand electronic visas to visit St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.
Simplification of visa formalities is one of the measures of non-financial support for inbound tourism, ”stressed Andrey Ignatiev.
According to the chief analyst of TeleTrade Petr Pushkarev, the duration of visa processing in the consular department previously forced foreigners to often refuse to visit Russia.
Meanwhile, the ability to issue an electronic entry document eliminates bureaucratic procedures and saves time, the expert noted.
“In addition, a significant reduction in the cost of processing entry documents will also help to increase the attractiveness of Russia as a tourist destination.
Previously, foreigners would have to spend $ 100-130 for obtaining a visa, and from 2021 - only $ 40, "Pushkaryov added.
According to him, the extension of the period of stay in the country up to 16 days also fully meets the needs of foreign tourists.
During this period, travelers will be able to visit several cities of Russia, which will have a positive impact on the transport sector, in particular air transportation, Peter Pushkarev is sure.
Backlog for the future
As Andrei Ignatiev noted, the Russian tourism industry will be able to feel the full positive effect of the introduction of electronic visas after the opening of air links with those countries that traditionally formed an inbound tourist flow.
In particular, we are talking about China and Germany.
“An effective measure would be free issuance of repeat visas for those foreign tourists who could not come to Russia because of the pandemic.
It was also proposed to make a single electronic visa multiple-entry for a period of 90-120 days and allow it to be issued three months before the intended trip, ”Ignatiev added.
According to Petr Pushkarev, after the end of the pandemic and the opening of air traffic, the tourist flow will go to developed tourist locations such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Sochi, the Far East.
According to the expert, in the future, foreign visitors will need to be attracted to other regions of Russia.
“In addition to simplifying the visa regime, it will be necessary to further develop the tourism infrastructure in the country.
We need more small inexpensive hotels, restaurants, equipped recreation sites and tourist routes, ”the expert concluded.