Will visa-free regime attract tourists to Russia

Will visa-free regime attract tourists to Russia

Yesterday, at the meeting of the State Council for Physical Culture and Sport, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the 2018 FIFA World Cup was the largest international sporting event, being prepared for eight years, and demanded the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people as well as serious investments.

However, these investments can pay off due to tourism. According to the Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze, in total, 5 million additional visits were recorded in all 11 cities where the 2018 FIFA World Cup was held: "Of these 5 million visits, almost a half, estimated to be somewhere around 49%, are foreign visitors. For example, in Kazan, more than 50% of the visitors who came during the month were foreigners. Thus, the flow of foreign tourists increased fourfold. Last year, in the same period, the share of foreign visitors was no more than 10% of the total tourist flow to Kazan, and this year, due to the World Cup, this share has increased to 50%.’’

As for Kaliningrad, according to Lomidze's data, the foreign tourist flow increased 1.6 times as compared to the same period last year. The opportunity to come to Russia without a visa served its purpose.

After the end of the championship, Vladimir Putin announced that the holders of the 2018 World Cup fan IDs will have the right to visa-free multiple visits to Russia before the end of the year. The leaders of all four factions of the State Duma have already submitted a corresponding bill to the Chamber for consideration.

According to Lomidze, this can consolidate the success of the championship. However, she said, one must bear in mind that residents of Latin and South American countries are unlikely to be able to take advantage of this because the absence of a visa is a good thing, but the cost of a ticket and the absence of the direct flights cannot be discounted. That is, the offer can be used by residents of those countries that are in convenient transport accessibility from Russian cities.

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